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I 92 I 



VERY few of the Fornaldar Sogur Northrlanda 
have hitherto been translated into English. The 
Vohungasaga is of course well known, but with this 
exception the * Stories of Icelanders/ and the 'Stories 
of the Kings of Norway ' are probably the only sagas 
familiar to the majority of English readers. Of 
the four sagas contained in this volume only one 
the Thdttr of Sorli has appeared in English before, 
though the poetry which they contain has frequently 
been translated, from the time of Hickes's Thesaurus 
(1705). So far as I am aware no version of any of the 
Faroese ballads has appeared in English. Out of the 
great number which were collected during the i8th 
and 1 9th centuries I have chosen a few which deal 
with the same stones as the sagas translated here; 
and for purposes of comparison I have added a short 
extract from one of the Icelandic Rtmur, as well as a 
Danish ballad and part of the Shetland Hildina. 

In accordance with general custom in works of 
this kind I have discarded the use of accents, un- 
familiar symbols, etc., except in a few Norse words 
which can hardly be anglicised. 

My thanks are due to the Syndics of the Cam- 
bridge University Press for undertaking the publi- 


cation of this book, and to the staff for their unfailing 

To Professor Thuren of Christiania I am indebted 
for kindly allowing me to print the melodies from 
his son's Folkesangen paa F<erfierne. I have also to 
thank many friends in St Andrews and Cambridge 
for help which they have kindly given to me in 
various ways, including Professor Lawson, Dr Mait- 
land Anderson and the staffs of the two University 
Libraries, and Mr B. Dickins. Especially I wish to 
thank Professor Chadwick to whom I am indebted 
for constant help and advice throughout the book. 

N. K. 

2 November, 1920. 

Table of Contents 




General Introduction .... 3 

The Thattr of Nornagest . . . . 1 1 

The Thattr of Sorli 38 

The Saga of Hromund Greipsson . . 58 

The Saga of Hervor and Heithrek . . 79 
Appendix to Part I (The Combat at Sams0 

and Hjalmar's Death Song) . . 144 


General Introduction . . . . 153 

Griplur I 171 

The Faroese Ballad of Nornagest . . 176 

The Faroese Ballad of Hjalmar and Angantyr 182 

The Danish Ballad of Angelfyr and Helmer 1 86 

The Faroese Ballad of Arngrim's Sons . 193 

The Faroese Riddle Ballad (Gatu Rima) . 212 

The Shetland Ballad of Hildina . . 217 

Notes 220 

List of editions and translations . . 254 





The following stories are taken from the Fornaldar- 
s'ogur Norfhrlanda, or ' Stories of Ancient Times 
relating to the countries of the North' a collection 
of Sagas edited by Rafn in 1 829 30 and re-edited by 
Valdimar Asmundarson in 1886-1891. The stories 
contained in this collection deal almost exclusively 
with times anterior to Harold the Fairhaired 
(c. 860-930) and the colonisation of Iceland, and 
stop therefore where the better known stories 
relating to Iceland and the historical kings of 
Norway begin. Some of them relate to persons and 
events of the ninth century, while others are con- 
cerned with times as remote as the fourth or fifth 
centuries. Their historical value is naturally far 
inferior to that of the Islendinga S'ogur^ or ' Stories 
of Icelanders' and the Konunga Sogur^ or ' Stories 
of the Kings.' 

From the literary point of view also the Stories 
of Ancient Times' are generally much inferior to 
the others. The 'Stories of Icelanders' are derived 
from oral tradition, which generally goes back in 
more or less fixed form to the time at which the 
characters in the stories lived, and they give us a 
vivid picture of the persons themselves and of the 
conditions of life in their time. In the ' Stories of 
Ancient Times,' on the other hand ? though there 



is some element derived from tradition, often 
apparently of a local character, it is generally very 
meagre. More often perhaps the source of the 
stories is to be found in poems, notable instances of 
which will be found in Hervarar Saga and in 
Vohunga Saga. In many cases, however, the stories 
without doubt contain a large proportion of purely 
fictitious matter. 

The texts of the 'Stories of Ancient Times' 
which have come down to us date as a rule from the 
thirteenth and the beginning of the fourteenth 
centuries, though the actual MSS. themselves are 
generally later. Most of the stories, however, were 
probably in existence before this time. The Danish 
historian Saxo Grammaticus (c. 1200) was familiar 
with many of them, including the story of Hethin 
and Hogni 1 and one of the scenes recorded in 
Heruarar Saga 2 . And we are told that a story which 
seems to have corresponded, in its main outlines at 
least, to the story of Hromund Greipsson was com- 
posed and recited at a wedding in Iceland in 1 1 19 3 . 
But in many cases the materials of our stories were 
far earlier than this, though they no doubt underwent 
considerable changes before they assumed their 
present form. 

Indeed many stages in the literary history of the 
North are represented in the following translations. 
Of these probably the oldest is that section of the 
Heruarar Saga which deals with the battle between 

1 Cf. Saxo Grammaticus, Dan. Hist., Book v, p. 160 (Elton's 
translation, pp. 197, iq8). 

2 Cf, Saxo, op. cit., Book v, p. 166 (Elton's translation, p. 205). 

3 Cf. Introduction to the Saga of Hromund Greipsson, p. 58 below. 


the Goths and the Huns " at Dylgia and on Dunheith 
and upon all the heights of Josur." The poetry 
here included in the saga dates even in its present 
form probably from the Viking Age, perhaps from 
the tenth century. But the verses themselves do not 
appear to be all of the same date. Some of them show 
a certain elaboration and a sense of conscious art, 
while others are comparatively bare and primitive 
in type and contain very early features 1 ; and there 
is every probability that such poetry was ultimately 
derived from poetry composed at a time when the 
Goths were still remembered. This is not surprising 
in view of the fact that stories relating to the Goths 
were popular in English and German heroic poetry, 
as well as in the heroic lays of the North. Indeed we 
know from Jordanes 2 and elsewhere that heroic poetry 
was common among the Goths themselves and that 
they were wont to celebrate the deeds of their 
ancestors in verse sung to the accompaniment of 
the harp. 

This poem is no doubt much older than the saga. 
Originally it would seem to have been complete in 
itself; but many verses have probably been lost. 
Thus there can be little doubt that the prose passages 
in chs. xii xv are often merely a paraphrase of lost 
verses, though it must not be assumed that all the 
prose in this portion of the saga originated in such 
a way 3 . "It is difficult to tell. ..where the prose of 

1 Cf. Heusler and Ranisch, Eddica Minor a (Dortmund, 1903), 
p. xii. 

2 De Origine Actibusque Getarum (transl. C. C. Mierow, Princeton, 
1915), cap. 5. 

3 Cf. Heusler and Ranisch, op. cit., p. x ff. 


the manuscripts is to be taken as standing in the 
place of lost narrative verses, and where it fills a 
gap that was never intended to be filled with verse, 
but was always left to the reciter to be supplied in 
his own way 1 ." The difficulty, however, is greater 
in some cases than in others. The following pic- 
turesque passage from the opening of ch. 14 of the 
Hervarar Saga is a very probable instance of a 
paraphrase of lost verses: 

It happened one morning at sunrise that as Hervor was 
standing on the summit of a tower over the gate of the 
fortress, she looked southwards towards the forest and saw 
clouds of dust, arising from a great body of horse, by which 
the sun was hidden for a long time. Next she saw a gleam 
beneath the dust, as though she were gazing on a mass of 
gold fair shields overlaid with gold, gilded helmets and 
white corslets. 

The motif of a chief or his lady standing on the 
pinnacle of a tower of the fort and looking out 
over the surrounding country for an approaching 

. 7 i 11 j *t*C -r c 

army is a very common one in ballads. The motif of 
the above passage from Hervarar Saga, including the 
armour of the foe and the shining shields, occurs in 
the opening stanzas of the Danish Ballad De vare 
syv og syvsindstyve 2 , which probably dates from the 
fourteenth century (though it may possibly be later 3 ) 
and which derives its material ultimately from old 
heroic lays 4 . 

1 Ker, Epic and Romance (London, 1908, 2nd ed.), p. 112. 

2 S. Grundtvig, Danmarks Gamle Folkeviser (Copenhagen, 
1853-1890), Bd i, no. 7. 

3 See General Introduction to Part n, p. 166 below. 

4 Cf. Axel Olrik, Danske Folkeviser i Udvalg (Copenhagen and 
Christiania, 1913), pp. 81, 82. 


To the same period approximately as the poem on 
the battle with the Huns belong the two pieces from 
the Older Edda contained in the Thattr^ of Norna- 
gest. The Reginsmal indeed, of which only about 
half is quoted, may be even earlier than the former 
(in the form in which it appears in Hervarar Saga\ 
while the Hellride of Brynhild can hardly be later 
than the early part of the eleventh century. 

A second stage in the literary history of the North 
is represented by the 'episodic' poems Hjalmar^s 
Death Song and the Waking of Angantyr^ both of 
which are attributed to the twelfth century by 
Heusler and Ranisch 2 . Unlike the poem on the 
battle between the Goths and the Huns, neither of 
these forms a story complete in itself. They pre- 
suppose the existence of a saga in some form or 
other, presumably oral, dealing at least with the 
fight at Sams0 ; and the existence of such a saga in 
the twelfth century is confirmed by the account of 
the same event given by Saxo 3 . 

A third stage in the literary development of the 
heroic legends is represented by the written saga 
itself, which has evidently been formed by the 
welding together, with more or less skill as the case 
may be, of several distinct stories, and of more than 
one literary form. A particularly striking instance of 
this is to be found in the Hervarar Saga with its 
stories of the Heroic and Viking Ages, the poems 

1 A. Thattr (pi. Th&ttir) is a story within a story an episode 
complete in itself but contained in a long saga. 

2 Eddica Minora, pp. xxi, xlii. 

3 Op. cit., Book v, p. 1 66 (Elton's translation, pp. 204, 


dealing with the fight on Sams0, the primitive 
Riddles of Gestumblindi and the early poem of the 
battle between the Goths and Huns 1 . Something of 
the same kind has also taken place in the composition 
of the Thtettir of Norn ages t and of Sorli respectively, 
though into the former has entered a considerable 
element of folk-tale which is introduced with a 
certain naivete and no little skill alongside the old 
heroic legends. As has been already mentioned, 
these three sagas, like others of the same type, 
appear to have been written down in the late thir- 
teenth or the early years of the fourteenth century. 
On the other hand most if not the whole of the 
Saga of Hromund Greipsson appears to have been 
composed early in the twelfth century, but we do 
not know when it was first written down. 

A fourth stage is represented by the Icelandic 
Rimur which are for the most part rhyming metrical 
versions of the sagas and which date from the four- 
teenth and fifteenth centuries. As an illustration of 
this stage I have translated a few stanzas from the 
Griplur^ a Rima based on an early form of the 
story of Hromund Greipsson 2 . The Rimur are, 
so far as we can judge, somewhat wearisome para- 
phrases of the prose stories, and while the metre and 
diction are elaborate in the extreme, the treatment of 
the story is often mechanical and puerile. Compara- 
tively few of the Rimur have as yet been published, 
and the Griplur is the only one known to me which 
is primarily concerned with any of the sagas con- 
tained in this volume. 

1 See Introduction to the Hervarar Saga, pp. 81-4 below. 

2 See Introduction to the Griplur, p. 171 ff. below. 


The ballads, both Faroese and Danish 1 , belong to 
a fifth stage in the life of heroic legend in the North ; 
but their origin and history is by no means so clear 
as that of the Rimur^ and it is at present impossible 
to assign even approximate dates to more than a 
few of them with any degree of certainty. I have 
touched on this question at somewhat greater length 
below 2 ; and I would only add here that some Danish 
and Swedish ballads, e.g. Ung Sveidal*, Thord af 
Hajfsgaard*) and perhaps Her Aage^, appear to be 
derived more or less directly from poems of the 
Viking Age, such as Fjolsvinsmdl, Thrymskvitha and 
Helgakvitha Hundingsbana I without any inter- 
mediate prose stage. 

A careful study of the Faroese ballads as a whole 
might enable one to determine something more of 
the relation of ballads to 'Literature' 6 and of the 
various ballad forms to one another, such as that of 
the short and simple Ballad of Hjalmar and Angantyr 
to the longer and more complicated Ballad of Arn- 
grims Sons. Simplification and* confusion are among 
the chief characteristics of popular poetry 7 ; but it is 

1 Cf. p. 165 ff. below. 

2 Cf. General Introduction to Part n, p. 166 below. 

3 Bugge's edition of the Saemundar Edda, p. 352 ff.; also Ker, 
Epic and Romance, p. 1 14 etc. ; Vigfusson and Powell, Corpus Poeticum 
Boreale (Oxford, 1883), Vol. i, p. 501 ff. 

4 C. P. B., Vol. i, pp. 175 and 501 ff. 

5 C. P. 5., Vol. i, p. 502 ff. 

6 Always, however, with the proviso that, owing to the avowed 
literary origin of many of them, the Faroese ballads to some extent 
form a class by themselves; cf. General Introduction to Part n, 
p. 1 66 below. 

7 Cf. Chadwick, The Heroic Age (Cambridge, 1912), p. 95. 

io THE SAGAS [PT. i 

to be noted that in the case of the Heryarar Saga 
confusion set in long before the days of the ballad 
as early as the saga itself, where there must surely be 
at least one case of repetition of character l . In reality, 
considering through how many stages the ballad 
material has passed, one is amazed at the vitality of 
the stories and the amount of original groundwork 
preserved. A careful comparison ofthePd/sunga Saga 
and the Faroese cycle of ballads generally classed 
together as Sjur^ar Kv*e>i which, be it observed, 
were never written down at all till the nineteenth 
century brings out to a degree literally amazing the 
conservatism of the ballads on the old heroic themes. 
Readers who desire to make further acquaintance 
with the 'Stories of Ancient Times' as a whole will 
find a further account of the subject in Professor 
Craigie's Icelandic Sagas (p. 92 ff.). More detailed 
accounts will be found in Finnur Jonsson's Old- 
norske og Oldislandske Litter aturs His forte 2 , Vol. n, 
pp. 789847, and in Mogk's Geschichte der Alt- 
nordischen Liter atur in Paul's Grundriss der Ger- 
manischen Philologie^ Ed. n, 1904, Vol. n, pp. 830- 
857, while a discussion of the heroic stories will be 
found in Professor Chadwick's Heroic Age p , chs. i vin. 
For a full bibliography of the texts, translations, 
and general literature dealing with the Fornaldar- 
sogur collectively, see the annual Islandica, Vol. v, 
pp. 19, compiled by Halldor Hermannsson and 
issued by the Cornell University Library, 1912. 

1 Cf. the Introduction to the Saga of Hervor and Heithrek, 
p. 8 1 f. below. 

2 Copenhagen, 1901. 


This story occurs as an episode in the long Saga 
of Olaf Tryggvason to be distinguished from the 
shorter Saga of Olaf Tryggvason contained in the 
Heimskringla and translated by Morris and Magnus- 
son in the Saga Library^-. The best known manu- 
script (F) of the longer saga is the Flateyjarbok which 
comes from the island of Flatey in Breithifjorth off 
the west of Iceland, and was written between 1386 
and 1.394. The second (6 1 ) is the Codex Arn. Magn. 
62 in the Royal Library (at Copenhagen), which, like 
the former, contains a fragment only of the Saga of 
Olaf Tryggvason, but includes the Thattr of Nornagest. . 
This MS. dates, in all probability, from shortly after 
the middle of the fourteenth century. Finally, besides 
several paper MSS. (comparatively late and unim- 
portant), there is a MS. A (number 2845 f t ^ ie 
Royal Library at Copenhagen) dating from the 
fifteenth century, in which the thdttr stands by itself. 

Rafn 2 , in his edition of the Fornaldarsogur, based 
his text of the tkattron A\ but subsequent examina- 
tion has rendered it probable that this MS. is hardly 
independent of F which gives an earlier and better 

1 An abridged translation of the longer saga by J. Sephton is 
published in the Northern Library, Vol. n (London, 1898). 

2 Fornaldarsogur Northrlanda (Copenhagen, 1829), Introduction, 
pp. xix, xx. 


text. As regards MSS. Fand , the latter frequently 
gives a better reading than the former 1 . For this 
reason it was followed by Bugge 2 who believed it to 
be the better source. Wilken 3 however held that 
F represents the ' Vulgate ' of the thdttr^ while S 
gives a corrected and edited version. In his edition, 
therefore, he chiefly followed F, though he made use 
of S throughout, and also (for the poems) the 
Codex Regius of the Older Edda. His example has 
been followed by later editors, including Valdimar 
Asmundarson 4 , from whose version the following 
translation has been made. The differences between 
all three MSS. appear to be very slight, but As- 
mundarson's edition approximates more closely to 
Wilken's than to Rafn's. Indeed the variations 
between the texts of Wilken's second edition 5 and 
Asmundarson are negligible. For a full bibliography 
of texts, translations, and literature relating to this 
saga the reader is referred to Islandica^ Vol. v, 
p. 32. 

The saga itself dates from about 1300. It is 
derived from tradition, mainly Icelandic; but the 
various stories contained in it differ greatly from 

1 Wilken, Die Prosaische Edda nebst Volsungasaga und Norn ages ts- 
tbdttr (Paderborn, 1877), p. Ixxxv ff. 

2 Norrjne Skrifter af Sagnhistorisk Jndhold (Christiania, 1873). 

3 Op. at., p. Ixxxviii. 

4 See Fornaldarsogur Northrlanda (Reykjavfk, 1891), Vol. i, 
pp. 247-266. 

5 The second edition follows the Codex Regius in the text of the 
poems included in the Tbattr more closely than did the first edition. 

6 Cf. Finnur T6nsson, Den Oldnorske og Oldislandske Litternturs 
Historic, Vol. n, p. 847; also M.o$,Norwegisch-Islandischen Liter atur 
(Strassburg, 1904), p. 822. 


one another in their historical value. This episode 
is probably to be regarded as legendary in part; 
and it would seem also to contain a good deal of 
conscious fiction. 

The thattr falls naturally into three parts. The 
framework of the story the arrival of Guest at the 
hall of Olaf Tryggvason, his inclusion in the King's 
retinue, and his baptism forms a whole in itself 
and contains nothing inherently improbable save 
the manner of his death, where the folk-tale element 
creeps in. The first ' story within a story,' the 
account that Guest gives of his wanderings and more 
especially of the adventures of Sigurth, is legendary 
- or perhaps rather made up from old legends with 
the help of the Edda poems. As in the case of the 
Anglo-Saxon poem Widsith and indeed to a much 
greater extent the persons who figure in the 
stranger's stories lived in reality in widely different 
ages. Sigurth and his brothers-in-law belong to the 
early part of the fifth century, Harold the Fairhaired 
and the sons of Lothbrok to the latter part of the 
ninth century. Other characters such as Guthmund 
of Glasisvellir who is mentioned in the first chapters 
are probably mythical. 

The third part, which is perhaps the most in- 
teresting part of the thattr^ is the passage in which 
Guest explains how he came by his name. There 
can be no doubt that here we are in the region of 
pure folk-tale. The story of the visit of the Norns 
shows a very remarkable resemblance to the Greek 
legend of Althaea and Meleager. The same motif 
appears to some extent in the mediaeval French 
romances of Ogier the Dane, and is familiar to every- 


one in a slightly different form as the first part of 
the German folk-tale, Sleeping Beauty, where the 
reference to spinning should be noted. 

The poetry contained in this thattr^ unlike that in 
the Hervarar Saga^ is all taken from the Older Edda. 
One of the poems, the Hellride of Brynhild, is given 
almost complete and there are long extracts from 
Reginsmal. There are, however, some references to 
poems which no longer exist 1 . 

In many respects the story of Nornagest is among 
the most interesting of the Romantic Sagas. It gives 
a vivid picture of life in a northern court the 
na'ivete and friendliness of the conversation; the 
personal interest that the King took in his men ; the 
intimacy and directness and simplicity of the inter- 
course between them. There is something, too, of the 
same boyish indulgence e.g. in King Olaf 's attitude 
towards the wager which one notices in Hrolf 
Kraki's talk with Vogg 2 . Yet combined with the 
amiability of both kings is a certain natural dignity 
which is very convincing. 


I. The story goes that on one occasion when 
King Olaf Tryggvason was living at Trondhjem, it 
chanced that a man came to him late in the day and 
addressed him respectfully. The King welcomed him 
and asked him who he was, and he said that his name 
was Guest. 

1 Cf. p. 19 below and note (p. 222). 

2 Cf. Skdldskaparmdl, ch. 3; also Hrolf s Saga Kraka, ch. 42. 


The King answered: "You shall be guest here, 
whatever you are called." 

Guest said: " I have told you my name truly, Sire, 
and I will gladly receive your hospitality if I may." 

The King told him he could have it readily. But 
since the day was far spent, the King would not enter 
into conversation with his guest; for he was going 
soon to vespers, and after that to dinner, and then to 
bed and to sleep. 

Now on that same night King Olaf Tryggvason 
was lying awake in his bed and saying his prayers, 
while all the other men in the hall were asleep. Then 
the King noticed that an elf or spirit of some kind 
had come into the hall, though all the doors were 
locked. He made his way past the beds of the men 
who were asleep there, one after another, and at last 
reached the bed of a man at the far end. 

Then the elf stopped and said : " An empty house, 
and a mighty strong bolt on the door! People 
say that the King is the wisest of men. If he were 
as clever in things of this kind as they say he would 
not sleep so soundly." 

After that he vanished through the door, locked 
as it was. 

Early next morning the King sent his servant to 
find out who had occupied that bed over night, and 
it proved to have been the stranger. The King or- 
dered him to be summoned before him and asked 
him whose son he was. 

He answered: "My father's name was Thorth. 
He was a Dane and was called 'The Contentious, 5 
and lived at a place called Groening in Denmark." 

"You are a well set-up man," said the King. 


Guest was bold of speech, and bigger in build 
than most men. He looked strong but was some- 
what advanced in years. He asked the King if he 
might stay for a while in his retinue. The King 
asked if he were baptised. Guest said that he 
had been prime-signed but not baptised. The King 
said that he was free to remain in his retinue, but 
added : 

" You will not remain long unbaptised with me." 

The reason for the elf's remark about the bolt was 
that Guest had crossed himself, that evening like 
other rnen, but was in reality still a heathen. 

The King said: " Can you do anything in the way 
of sport or music?" 

He replied that he could play the harp and tell 
stories which people enjoyed. 

Then said the King: " King Svein has no right to 
let unbaptised men leave his kingdom and wander 
about from one country to another." 

Guest replied : " You must not blame the King of 
the Danes for this, for it is a long time since I left 
Denmark. In fact it was a long time before the 
Emperor Otto burnt the Dane-work and forced 
King Harold Gormsson and Earl Haakon the Heathen 
to become Christians." 

The King questioned Guest about many subjects 
and he always gave him good and intelligent answers. 
Men say that it was in the third year of King Olaf's 
reign that Guest came to him. 

In this year also there came to him two men called 
Grim who were sent by Guthmund from Glasisvellir. 
They brought to the King as a present from Guth- 
mund two horns which were also called 'Grim.' 


They had also some further business with the King 
to which we will return later. 

As for Guest, he remained with the King, and had 
a place at the far end of the visitors' seats. He was 
a man of breeding and had good manners, and was 
popular and much respected by everyone. 

II. A little before Yule, Ulf the Red and his 
following came home. He had been engaged on the 
King's business all summer, for he had been ap- 
pointed to guard the coasts of 'The Bay' against 
Danish raids. He never failed to be with King Olaf 
at mid-winter. 

Ulf had many fine treasures to bring to the King, 
which he had got during the summer, and one gold 
ring in particular which was called Hnituth. It was 
welded together in seven places and each piece had a 
different colour. It was made of much finer gold than 
rings usually are. The ring had been given to Ulf by a 
landowner called Lothmund, and before that it had 
belonged to King Half, from whom the Halfsrekkar 
take their name. The ring had come to them as 
forced tribute from King Halfdan Ylfing. Loth- 
mund had asked Ulf in return for it that he would 
guard his home with the support of King Olaf, and 
Ulf had promised to do so. 

Now King Olaf was keeping Yule in magnificent 
style at his court in Trondhjem; and it was on the 
eighth day of Yule that Ulf gave him the gold ring 
Hnituth. The King thanked him for the gift as well 
as for all the faithful service which he had constantly 
rendered him. 

The ring was passed round the building in which 
the drinking was going on. As yet no halls had 


been built in Norway. Now each man showed it to 
his neighbour and they thought that they had never 
seen such fine gold as that of which the ring was 
made. At last it came to the guest-table, and so to the 
guest who had just arrived. He looked at the ring 
and handed it back on the palm of his hand the 
hand in which he had been holding his drinking 
horn. He was not much impressed with the treasure, 
and made no remarks about it, but went on jesting 
with his companions. A serving-man was pouring 
out drink at the end of the guest-table. 

"Do you not like the ring?" he asked. 

They said: "We all like it very much except the 
new-comer. He can't see anything in it; but we 
think he can't appreciate it simply because he 
doesn't care for things of this kind." 

The serving-man went lip the hall to the King and 
told him exactly what the guests had said, adding that 
the new-comer had taken little note of the treasure, 
valuable as it was, when it was shown to him. 

Then the King remarked: "The new-comer 
probably knows more than you think : he must come 
to me in the morning and tell me a story." 

Now he and the other guests at the farthest table 
were talking among themselves. They asked the 
new-comer where he had seen a better ring or even 
one as good as this. 

" Since you evidently think it strange," said he, 
"that I make so little of it, I may say that I have 
certainly seen gold which is in no way inferior, but 
actually better." 

The King's men now laughed heartily and said 
that that promised good sport, adding: 


"Will you agree to wager with us that you have 
seen gold as good as this, and prove it? We will stake 
four marks in current coin against your knife and 
belt; and the King shall decide who is in the right." 

Then said Guest: "I will neither be made a 
laughing-stock for you nor fail to keep the wager 
which you offer. And I will certainly lay a wager 
with you on the spot, and stake exactly what you 
have suggested, and the King shall judge who is in 
the right." 

Then they stopped talking, and Guest took his 
harp and played it well till far into the evening, so 
that it was a joy to all who heard him. What he 
rendered best was The Harping of Gunnar\ and last 
of all he played the ancient Wiles of Guthrun^ 
neither of which they had heard before. And after 
that they went to sleep for the night. 

III. In the morning the King rose early and heard 
Mass; and after that he went to breakfast with 
his retinue. And when he had taken his place in the 
high seat, the guests came up to him, and Guest with 
them; and they told him all about their agreement 
and the wager which they had made. 

" I am not much taken with your wager," replied 
the King, "although it is your own money that you 
are staking. I suspect that the drink must have 
gone to your heads; and I think you would do well 
to give it up, especially if Guest agrees." 

"My wish is," replied Guest, "that the whole 
agreement should stand." 

"It looks to me, Guest," said the King, "as if it 
was my men rather than you whose tongues have got 
them into trouble; but we will soon put it to the test." 


After that they left him and went to drink; and 
when the drinking tables were removed, the King 
summoned Guest and spoke to him as follows : 

" Now is the time for you to produce the gold if 
you have any, so that I can decide your wager." 

"As you will, Sire!" replied Guest. 

Then he felt in a pouch which he had with him, 
and took out of it a fob which he untied, and then 
handed something to the King. 

The King saw that it was a piece of a saddle- 
buckle and that it was of exceedingly fine gold. 
Then he bade them bring the ring Hnituth; and 
when they did so, the King compared the ring and 
the piece of gold and said : 

" I have no doubt whatever that the gold which 
Guest has shown us is the finer, and anyone who 
looks at it must think so too." 

Everybody agreed with the King. Then he decided 
the wager in Guest's favour, and the other guests 
came to the conclusion that they had made fools of 
themselves over the business. 

Then Guest said : " Take your money and keep it 
yourselves, for I don't need it; but don't make any 
more wagers with strangers, for you never know 
when you may hit upon someone who has both seen 
and heard more than you have. I thank you, Sire, 
for your decision!" 

Then the King said: "Now I want you to tell me 
where you got that gold from, which you carry about 
with you." 

Guest replied: " I am loth to tell you, because no- 
one will believe what I have to say about it." 

"Let us hear it all the same," said the King, "for 


you promised before that you would tell us your 

" If I tell you the history of this piece of gold," 
replied Guest, " I expect you will want to hear the 
rest of my story along with it." 

"I expect that that is just what will happen," 
said the King. 

IV. " Then I will tell you how once I went south 
into the land of the Franks. I wanted to see for my- 
self what sort of a prince Sigurth the son of Sigmund 
was, and to discover if the reports which had reached 
me of his great beauty and courage were true. 
Nothing happened worth mentioning until I came 
to the land of the Franks and met King Hjalprek. 
He had a great court around him. Sigurth, the son 
of Sigmund, the son of Volsung, and of Hjordis, the 
daughter of Eylimi, was there at that time. Sigmund 
had fallen in battle against the sons of Hunding, and 
Hjordis had married Alf the son of King Hjalprek. 
There Sigurth grew up together with all the other 
sons of King Sigmund. Among these were Sinfjotli 
and Helgi, who surpassed all men in strength and 

O ' L O 

stature. Helgi slew King Hunding, thereby earning 
the name Hundingsbani. The third son was called 
Hamund. Sigurth, however, outstripped all his 
brothers, and it is a well-known fact that he was the 
noblest of all warrior princes, and the very model of 
a king in heathen times. 

At that time, Regin, the son of Hreithmar, had 
also come to King Hjalprek. He was a dwarf in 
stature, but there was no-one more cunning than he. 
He was a wise man, but malign and skilled in magic. 
Regin taught Sigurth many things and was devoted 


to him. He told him about his birth and his won- 
drous adventures. 

And when I had been there a little while, I 
entered Sigurth' s service like many others. He was 
very popular with everybody, because he was friendly 
and unassuming, and generous to all. 

V. It chanced one day that we came to Regin's 
house and Sigurth was made welcome there. Then 
Regin spoke these verses: 

The son of Sigmund cometh to our hall, 
A valiant warrior. It must needs befall 
That I, less doughty and oppressed with age, 
Shall fall a victim to his wolfish rage. 

But I will cherish Yngvi's valorous heir, 
Since Fate hath sent him hither to our care, 
Train him to be, in valour and in worth, 
The mightiest and most famous prince on earth. 

At this time, Sigurth was constantly in Regin 's 
company. Regin told him much about Fafnir how 
he dwelt upon Gnitaheith in the form of a serpent, 
and also of his wondrous size. Regin made for 
Sigurth a sword called Gram. It was so sharp that 
when he thrust it into the River Rhine it cut in 
two a flock of wool which he had dropped into the 
river and which was drifting down stream, cutting 
it just as clean as it did the water itself. Later on, 
Sigurth clove Regin's stithy with the sword. After 
that Regin urged Sigurth to slay his brother Fafnir 
and Sigurth recited this verse: 

The sons of Hunding would laugh loud and high, 
Who shed the life-blood of King Eylimi, 
If that his grandson bold should more desire 
Rings of red gold than vengeance for his sire. 


After that Sigurth made ready an expedition to 
attack the sons of Hunding; and King Hjalprek gave 
him many men and some warships. Hamund, 
Sigurth's brother, was with him on this venture, 
and so was Regin the dwarf. I was present too, and 
they called me Nornagest. King Hjalprek had got 
to know me when he was in Denmark with Sigmund 
the son of Volsung. At that time, Sigmund was 
married to Borghild, but they parted because 
Borghild killed Sinfjotli the son of Sigmund by 
poison. Then Sigmund went south to the land of 
the Franks and married Hjordis, the daughter of 
King Eylimi. The sons of Hunding slew him, so 
Sigurth had both his father and grandfather to 

Helgi, the son of Sigmund, who was called 
Hundingsbani, was the brother of Sigurth who was 
afterwards called Fafnisbani. Helgi, Sigurth's 
brother, had slain King Hunding and three of his 
sons, Eyjulf, Hervarth, and Hjorvarth, but Lyngvi 
and- his two remaining brothers, Alf and Heming, 
escaped. They were exceedingly famous for exploits 
and accomplishments of every kind; but Lyngvi 
surpassed all his brothers. They were very skilled in 
magic. They had reduced many petty kings to sub- 
jection, and slain many champions, and burnt many 
cities. They had worked the greatest havoc with 
their raids in Spain and in the land of the Franks. 
But at that time the Imperial Power had not yet 
been transferred to the regions north of the Alps. 
The sons of Hunding had seized the realm which 
had belonged to Sigurth in the land of the Franks, 
and they had very large forces there. 


VI. Now I must tell you how Sigurth prepared 
for battle against the sons of Hunding. He had got 
together a large and well-armed host, and Regin was 
a mighty man in the councils of the force. He had 
a sword which was called Rithil and which he had 
forged himself. Sigurth asked Regin to lend him 
the sword. He did so, begging him to slay Fafnir 
when he should return from this adventure, and this 
Sigurth promised to do. 

After that we sailed away south along the coast, 
and then we met with a great storm raised by witch- 
craft, and many believed that it had been stirred up 
by the sons of Hunding. After this we hugged the 
shore somewhat more closely, and then we saw a 
man on a rocky promontory which jutted out from 
the cliffs. He wore a green cloak and dark breeches, 
and had high laced boots on his feet, and carried a 
spear in his hand. This man addressed us in the 
following stanza: 

What folk are ye who ride the sea-king's steed, 
Mounting the lofty billows, and proceed 
Athwart the tossing main? Drenched is your sail, 
Nor can your ships against the wind prevail. 

Regin replied: 

Hither come we with Sigurth o'er the foam, 
Whom ocean breezes blow to our last home. 
Full soon the breakers, higher than the prow 
Will sink our 'ocean-steeds'; but who art thou? 

The man in the cloak replied: 

Hnikar the name men did for me employ, 
Young Volsung, when I gave the raven joy 
Of carnage. Call me either of the two 
Fjolnir or Feng, but let me fare with you. 


Then we steered towards the land and the wind 
fell immediately; and Sigurth bade the man come 
on board. He did so, and a fair breeze sprang up. 
The man sat down at Sigurth 's feet and was very 
friendly, asking if Sigurth would like to hear some 
advice from him. Sigurth said that he would, and 
added that he had an idea that Hnikar could give 
people very helpful advice if he were willing to turn 
it to their advantage. Then Sigurth said to the man 
in the cloak: 

Hnikar, since you know the destiny 
Of gods and men, declare this unto me. 
Which are the omens that should most delight 
When swords are swinging and a man must fight? 

Hnikar replied : 

Many propitious signs, if men could know, 
Appear when swords are swinging to and fro. 

1 hold a warrior has a trusty guide 
When a dark raven hovers at his side. 
I hold it too for a propitious sign 

If men to make a journey should design, 

And, coming out of doors, see close at hand 

Two gallant warriors in the pathway stand. 

And if you hear beneath the rowan tree 

A howling wolf, the sound spells luck to thee, 

And luck shall helmed warriors bring to thee, 

If thou such warriors art the first to see. 

Facing the sinking and late shining light 

Of the Moon's sister, warriors should not fight. 

Victory is theirs who, eager for the fray, 

Can clearly see to order their array. 

I hold it no occasion for delight 

When a man stumbles as he goes to fight; 

For guileful spirits dog him on his way 

With mischief-bearing looks throughout the fray 


A man of wisdom, as each day goes past, 
Washes, and combs his hair, and breaks his fast. 
He knows not where by evening he may be. 
Stumbling is bad luck, boding ill to thee. 

And after that we sailed southwards along the 
coast of Holstein and to the east of Friesland, and 
there we landed. The sons of Hunding heard at once 
of our expedition and gathered an army; and they 
soon had a larger force than we had, and when we 
encountered them there was a great battle. Lyngvi 
was the most valiant of the brothers in every onset, 
though they all fought bravely. Sigurth's attack was 
so fierce that everyone shrank before him, when they 
saw that they were threatened by the sword Gram. 
There was no need to reproach Sigurth with lack of 
courage. And when he and Lyngvi met, they ex- 
changed many blows and fought with the greatest 
valour. Then there was a lull in the battle, for people 
turned to watch the single combat. For a long time 
neither of them was able to inflict a wound on the 
other, so skilled in arms were they. 

Then Lyngvi 's brothers made a fierce attack and 
slew many of our men, while others took to flight. Then 
Hamund, Sigurth's brother, rushed to meet them, and 
I joined him, and then there was another encounter. 

The end of the affair between Sigurth and Lyngvi 
was that Sigurth made him prisoner and had him 
fettered. And when Sigurth joined us, matters very 
soon changed. Then the sons of Hunding fell and 
all their host; but then night was coming on. And 
when day dawned, Hnikar had vanished, and he was 
never seen again. We came to the conclusion that it 
must in reality have been Othin. 


A discussion then took place as to what death 
Lyngvi should suffer; Regin counselled that the 
'blood eagle' should be carved on his back. Then 
I handed to Regin his sword and with it he carved 
Lyngvi' s back till he had severed the ribs from the 
spine; and then he drew out the lungs. Thus died 
Lyngvi with great courage. 
Then Regin said: 

Full seldom has a bolder warrior 
Reddened the earth than Sigmund's murderer. 
Hugin he feasted. Now with biting sword 
The ' bloody eagle ' on his back is scored. 

Great spoil was taken there. Sigurth's sailors got 
the whole of it because he would not take any 
himself. The clothes and weapons taken were worth 
much gold. 

Afterwards Sigurth slew Fafnir, and Regin also, 
because Regin had intended to deal treacherously 
with him. Sigurth took Fafnir' s gold and rode away 
with it, and from that time on he was called Fafnis- 

After that he rode up to Hindarheith where he 
found Brynhild. What passed between them is told 
in the story of Sigurth Fafnisbani. 

VII. Later on Sigurth married Guthrun the 
daughter of King Gjuki and then stayed for a while 
with his brothers-in-law, the sons of Gjuki. I re- 
turned to the North with Sigurth and was with him 
in Denmark, and I was also with him when Sigurth 
Hring sent his brothers-in-law, the sons of Gandalf, 
to Gunnar and Hogni, the sons of Gjuki, and de- 
manded that they should pay him tribute, threatening 
them with invasion in case they refused. But they 


decided to defend their country. Thereupon GandalFs 
sons challenged the sons of Gjuki to a pitched battle 
on the frontier, and then returned home; but the 
sons of Gjuki asked Sigurth Fafnisbani to go to 
battle with them, and he agreed to do so. I was still 
with Sigurth at that time. Then we sailed again 
northwards along the coast of Holstein and landed 
at a place called Jarnamotha. Not far from the 
landing place hazel-wood poles had been set up to 
mark where the fight was to take place. 

Then we saw many ships sailing from the north 
under the command of the sons of Gandalf. Then the 
two hosts charged one another fiercely. Sigurth 
Hring was not there, because he had to defend his 
own land, Sweden, against the inroads of the Kurir 
and Kvaenir. Sigurth was a very old man at that 
time. Then the forces came into collision, and there 
was a great battle and much slaughter. The sons of 
Gandalf fought bravely, for they were exceptionally 
big and strong. 

In that host there appeared a big strong man who 
made such slaughter of men and horses that no-one 
could withstand him, for he was more like a giant 
than a man. Gunnar bade Sigurth go and attack 
the scoundrel, adding that as things were, there 
would be no success. So Sigurth made ready to 
encounter the mighty man, and some others went 
with him, but most of them were far from eager. 

We quickly came upon the mighty man, and 
Sigurth asked him his name and whence he came. 
He said that he was Starkath, the son of Storverk, 
and that he came from the North, from Fenhring 
in Norway. Sigurth said that he had heard reports 


of him and generally little to his credit, adding that 
no mercy ought to be shown towards such people. 

Starkath said: " Who is this man who casts insults 
in my teeth?" 

Sigurth told him who he was. 

Starkath said: "Are you called Fafnisbani?" 

Sigurth said he was. 

Then Starkath sought to escape, but Sigurth 
pursued him and swung aloft the sword Gram and 
struck him on the jaw with the hilt so hard that two 
molars fell out of his mouth; it was a stunning blow. 

Then Sigurth bade the cur take himself off, and 
Starkath went away, and I picked up one of the teeth 
and carried it off with me. It is now used on a bell- 
rope at Lund in Denmark and weighs seven ounces; 
and people go and look at it there as a curiosity. 

As soon as Starkath had run away, the sons of 
Gandalf took to flight, and we captured great booty; 
and after that Sigurth went home to his realm and 
remained there for a while. 

VIII. A short time after, we heard that Starkath 
had committed a foul murder, slaying King AH in 
his bath. 

It chanced one day that as Sigurth Fafnisbani was 
riding to some gathering or other, he rode into a 
muddy pool, and his horse Grani leapt up so wildly 
that his saddle-girth burst asunder and the buckle 
fell to the ground. And when I saw where it lay 
shining in the mud, I picked it up and handed it to 
Sigurth ; but he said that I might keep it. It was that 
very piece of gold that you were looking at a short 
time ago. Then Sigurth got down from his horse, and 
I rubbed it down and washed the mud off it; and I 


pulled a lock of hair out of its tail as a proof of its 
great size. 

Then Guest showed the lock and it was seven ells 

King Olaf said: "I think your stories are very 

Everybody praised his stories and his talent. 

Then the King wanted him to tell them much 
more about the adventures he had met with on his 
travels. So Guest told them many amusing stories 
till late in the evening. It was then time to go to bed ; 
but next morning the King sent for Guest, and wanted 
to talk to him still further. 

The King said: " I can't quite make out your age 
and how you can be old enough to have been present 
when these events took place. You will have to tell 
another story so as to make us better acquainted with 
things of this kind." 

Guest replied: " I suspected before that you would 
want to hear another of my stories, if I told you what 
had happened about the gold." 

" You must certainly tell me some more," replied 
the King. 

IX. "I must tell you then," Guest began, "that 
I went north to Denmark and there settled down on 
my estate, for my father had died a short time before ; 
and a little later I heard of the death of Sigurth and 
the sons of Gjuki, and I felt that that was news in- 

"What was the cause of Sigurth' s death?" asked 
the King. 

Guest replied: "It is generally believed that 
Guthorm the son of Gjuki ran a sword through him 


while he was asleep in bed with Guthrun. On the 
other hand, Germans say that Sigurth was slain out 
in the forest. In the Guthrunar-rcetha again it is 
stated that Sigurth and the sons of Gjuki had ridden 
to a gathering and that they slew him then. But one 
thing is agreed by all that they set on him when he 
was down and off his guard, and that they were 
guilty of gross treachery towards him." 

Then one of the retinue asked : 

"How did Brynhild behave then?" 

Guest answered: " Brynhild then slew seven of her 
slaves and five handmaidens, and ran herself through 
with a sword, commanding that she should be taken 
to the pyre along with these people and burned 
beside Sigurth. This was done, one pile being made 
for Sigurth and another for Brynhild, and he was 
burned first, and then Brynhild. She was taken in a 
chariot with a canopy of velvet and silk which was 
all ablaze with gold, and thus was she burnt." 

Then Guest was asked if Brynhild had chanted a 
lay after she was dead. He replied that she had, and 
they asked him to recite it if he could. 

Then Guest said: "As Brynhild was being driven 
to the pyre on the way to Hell, she was brought near 
some cliffs where an ogress dwelt. The ogress was 
standing outside the doors of her cave and wore a 
skin kirtle and was of a blackish hue. She carried a 
long faggot in her hand and cried: 

' This will I contribute to your burning, Brynhild. 
It would have been better if you had been burned while 
you were still alive, before you were guilty of getting 
such a splendid man as Sigurth Fafnisbani slain. I was 
always friendly to him and therefore I shall attack 

y b ' 


ou in a reproachful song which will make you hated 
y everybody who hears what you have done.' 

After that Brynhild and the ogress chanted to 
one another. 

The ogress sang as follows: 

Thou shalt not be suffered to pass through my courts 
With their pillars of stone in my mansion drear, 

Better far wert thou busied at home with thy needle! 
Not thine is the husband thou followest here. 

Inconstant soul, why comest thou hither? 

From the land of the Romans why visit'st thou me? 
Full many a wolf hast thou made be partaker 

Of the life-blood of men who were butchered by thee! 

Then cried Brynhild: 

Upbraid me no more from thy rock bound dwelling 

For battles I fought in the days of old. 
Thou wilt not be deemed to be nobler of nature 

Than I, wheresoever our story is told ! 

The Ogress: 

In an evil hour, O Buthli's daughter, 

In an evil hour wert thou brought to birth. 

The Sons of Gjuki thou gavest to slaughter, 
Their noble dwellings thou rased'st to earth. 

Brynhild : 

A true account, if thou carest to hearken, 

O thou lying soul, will I tell to thee; 
How empty of love and o'ershadowed by falsehood 

The life that the Gjukings had destined for me! 

Atli's daughter was I, yet the monarch bold-hearted 
Assigned me a home neath the shade of the oak. 

But twelve summers old, if thou carest to hearken, 
Was this maid when her vows to the hero she spoke. 


Hjalmgunnar the Old, of the Gothic nation, 

Great chief, on the pathway to Hell did I speed; 

And victory granted to Auth's young brother; 
Then Othin's dread fury was roused at my deed. 

Then a phalanx of bucklers did Othin set round me 
On Skatalund's heights, shields crimson and white, 

Bade only that prince break the slumber that bound me 
Who knew naught of terror, nor shrank from the fight. 

And flames high towering and fiercely raging 
Round my Southern hall did he set in a ring: 

None other was destined to pass through in safety 
Save the hero who treasure of Fafnir should bring. 

The generous hero with treasure a-gleaming, 

The Danish viking on Grani rode, 
Foremost champion in deeds of valour 

Where my foster-father had his abode. 

As brother with sister we slept together; 

Eight nights' space he lay at my side. 
There were we happy and slumbered idly, 

Nor loving caresses did ever betide. 

Yet Guthrun the daughter of Gjuki reviled me, 

That I in the arms of her lover had slept. 
O then was I 'ware of the thing I desired not 

The truth of my marriage from me had they kept. 

All too long against storms of adversity struggling 
Both women and men seek their fortunes to right; 

But I with my Sigurth shall end my life's battle 

At last. Now depart from me, daughter of Night! 

Then the ogress gave a horrible shriek and leapt 
into the cliff." 

Then the King's followers cried: "That's fine! 
Go on and tell us some more!" 

But the King said: "You need not tell us any 

K. 3 


more about things of that kind." Then he continued : 
"Were you ever with the sons of Lothbrok?" 

Guest replied: " I was only with them for a short 
time; I joined them when they were making an 
expedition to the south in the neighbourhood of the 
Alps, and when they destroyed Vifilsborg. Panic 
spread everywhere at their approach, for they were 
victorious wherever they went. They were intending 
at the time to go to Rome. It chanced one day that 
a certain man came up to King Bjorn Ironside and 
saluted him. The King received him in a friendly 
way and asked him whence he came. He said that 
he had come from the south, from Rome. 

The King asked him: 'How long is the journey 

He replied : ' You can see here, O King, the shoes 
which I am wearing.' 

Then he took iron-bound shoes from his feet, and 
the tops of them were very thick, but underneath 
they were all torn. 

'You can see now how severely my shoes have 
suffered,' said he, * and tell by that what a long way 
it is from here to Rome.' 

'It must be a very long way,' said the King; 
' I shall turn back and give up the idea of attacking 
the territories of Rome.' 

And the result was that they went no further on 
their way; and everyone thought it extraordinary 
that they should change their minds so suddenly at 
the word of one man, when they had all their plans 
laid. So after this the sons of Lothbrok went back 
to their homes in the north, and made no further 
raids in the south." 


The King said : " It is clear that the saints in Rome 
would not allow them to make their way there. The 
man you spoke of must have been a Spirit sent from 
God to make them change their minds so quickly, 
so as not to bring destruction on Rome, the most holy 
place of Jesus Christ." 

X. Then the King asked Guest: "Amongst the 
kings whom you have visited, whose was the court 
that you liked best?" 

Guest replied : " I enjoyed most being with Sigurth 
and the sons of Gjuki; but the sons of Lothbrok 
were those who allowed most freedom to their 
followers to live as they liked. Then again the richest 
place was that of Eric at Upsala ; but King Harold 
the Fairhaired was more exacting than any of the 
kings I have mentioned in the duties that he imposed 
on his followers. I was with King Hlothver too in 
the land of the Saxons, and there I was prime-signed; 
for it was not possible to remain with him otherwise, 
because the Christian religion was carefully observed 
there. That was the place I liked best on the whole." 

The King said: "You can give us a great deal 
of information whatever question we ask you." 

The King then asked Guest many further questions, 
and Guest told him everything clearly, and finally he 

" Now I must tell you why I am called Norna-gest." 

The King said he would like to hear. 

XI. Guest began: "I was brought up at my 
father's home at a place called Greening. My 
father was a wealthy man and kept house in great 
style. At that time wise women used to go about the 
country. They were called 'spae-wives,' and they 



foretold people's futures. For this reason people used 
to invite them to their houses and gave them hos- 
pitality and bestowed gifts on them at parting. 

My father did the same, and they came to him 
with a great following to foretell my fate. I was lying 
in my cradle when the time came for them to prophesy 
about me, and two candles were burning above 
me. Then they foretold that I should be a favourite 
of Fortune, and a greater man than any of my kindred 
or forbears greater even than the sons of the chief 
men in the land ; and they said that all would come 
to pass just as it has done. But the youngest Norn 
thought that she was not receiving enough attention 
compared with the other two, since they were 
held in high account yet did not consult her about 
these prophecies. There was also a great crowd of 
roughs present, who pushed her off her seat, so that 
she fell to the ground. She was much vexed at this 
and called out loudly and angrily, telling them to 
stop prophesying such good things about me: 

' For I ordain that the boy shall live no longer than 
that candle burns which is alight beside him.' 

Then the eldest spae-wife took the candle and 
extinguished it and bade my mother take charge of 
it and not light it until the last day of my life. After 
that the spae-wives went away, and my father gave 
them good gifts at parting. When I was full-grown, 
my mother gave me the candle to take charge of: I 
have it with me now." 

The King said : " Why have you come here to me 

Guest replied: "The idea that came into my mind 
was this : I expected that I should get good luck from 


you, because I have heard you highly praised by good 
and wise men." 

The King said: "Will you receive holy baptism 

Guest replied: "Yes, I will, since you advise it." 

So it came to pass; and the King took him into 
his favour and made him one of his retinue. Guest 
became a very good Christian and loyally followed 
the King's rules of life. He was also popular with 

XII. It happened one day that the King asked 
Guest: "How much longer would you live if you 
could choose?" 

Guest replied: "Only a short time, please God!" 

The King said : " What will happen if you take 
your candle now?" 

Thereupon Guest took his candle out of the frame 
of his harp. The King ordered it to be lighted, and 
this was done. And when the candle was lighted it 
soon began to burn away. 

Then the King said to Guest : " How old are you?" 

And Guest replied: "I am now three hundred 
years old." 

: ' You are an old man," observed the King. 

Then Guest laid himself down and asked them 
to anoint him with oil. The King ordered it to be 
done, and when it was finished there was very little 
of the candle left unburnt. Then it became clear 
that Guest was drawing near to his end, and his 
spirit passed just as the torch flickered out; and they 
all marvelled at his passing. The King also set great 
store by his stories and held that the account which 
he had given of his life was perfectly true. 


This story, like the last, is taken from the long 
Saga of Olaf Tryggvason contained in the Flatey] arbok, 
Vol. i, pp. 275283. Its connection, however, with 
the story of that King is of the slightest. According 
to the opinion of Finnur Jonsson 1 the story in its 
present form dates from the first half of the four- 
teenth century. 

This story, like the Thattr of Norn age -j/, shows 
evidence of a definite structural plan and falls into 
three distinct parts. In the first two chapters the 
scene is laid among the gods, and the story is set 
in motion by the forging of a necklace for the goddess 
Freyja by some dwarfs. This is stolen by Loki and 
given to Othin, who refuses to restore it to Freyja 
till she promises to bring about a perpetual battle 
between two mighty kings. 

Then in chs. in and iv we have an account of the 
adventures of a Viking prince named Sb'rli, from 
whom the story takes its (somewhat inappropriate) 
title 2 . Sorli comes into contact (first as an enemy, 
later as a friend) with another prince called Hogni, 
and this leads up to the main theme the friendship 
and subsequent quarrel of Hethin and Hogni, in 

1 Oidnorske og Oldislandske Litteraturs Historic, Vol. n, p. 837. 

2 The life of this prince is told at length in another saga Sorla 
Saga Sterka which is published in Vol. in of Asmundarson's edition 
of the Fornaldarsogur. 


whose tragic fate Freyja's promise is fulfilled. The 
perpetual battle between these two heroes is finally 
ended by one of Olaf Tryggvason's men, and it is 
through this that the story comes to be introduced 
into his Saga. 

The story of Hethin and Hogni was a favourite 
one in the North. It is told in Skaldskaparmal, 
ch. 49, and in Saxo Grammaticus' Danish History, 
Book v (Elton, pp. 195-198). The earliest Norse 
reference to it is to be found in Bragi's Ragnarsdrapa, 
str. 37. The story must also have been well known 
in the Orkneys, since we find the following verses 
in the Hdttalykill by Jarl Rognvald (1136-58) and 
an Icelandic skald Hall who flourished 1 140 48 1 . 

Who planned to carry off Hild? 

Who fight all day long? 

Who will be reconciled at last? 

Who incited the kings? 

Hethin planned to carry off Hild; 

The Hjathningar are always fighting; 

They will be reconciled at last; 

Hild incited the host. 

Who reddens the keen blades? 
Who chops meat for the wolf? 
Who makes showers of helmets ? 
Who stirred up strife? 
Harold reddened the keen blades; 
The host chops meat for the wolf; 
Hogni makes the shower of helmets; 
Hjarrandi stirred up strife! 

In the Shetlands the story survived down to 
modern times in the form of a ballad known as 

1 Cf. Finnur Jonsson, op. cit., Vol. n, pp. 34, 35. 


Hildina^ which was taken down by George Low 1 
from the recitation of an old man on the Isle of Foula 
in 1774. The Norwegian dialect (Norn) in which it 
is composed is so obscure as we have it in Low's 
script as to be almost untranslatable, though a 
serious attempt at its interpretation has been made 
by Dr M. Haegstad in Skrifter udgivne of Viden- 
skabssehkabet i Chris tiania 5 1900 (Historisk-Filosofisk 
Klasse, n), with a very full discussion of all the lin- 
guistic difficulties involved 2 . According to Low, 
"The subject is a strife between a King of Norway 
and an Earl of Orkney, on account of the hasty 
marriage of the Earl with the King's daughter in 
her father's absence." Further on 3 he gives the 
substance of the ballad at greater length : 

An Earl of Orkney, in some of his rambles on the coast of 
Norway, saw and fell in love with the King's daughter of 
the country. As their passion happened to be reciprocal he 
carried her off in her father's absence, who was engaged in 
war with some of his distant neighbours. On his return, he 
followed the fugitives to Orkney, accompanied by his army, 
to revenge on the Earl the rape of his daughter. On his 
arrival there, Hildina. (which was her name) first spied him, 
and advised her now husband to go and attempt to pacify the 
King. He did so, and by his appearance and promises brought 
the King so over as to be satisfied with the match. 

After this, with the introduction of a courtier 
Hiluge the story proceeds in a form totally different 
from anything found in the thdttr^ though an attempt 

1 Cf. A Tour through the Islands of Orkney and Schetland, by 
George Low, edited by J. A. Anderson (Kirkwall, 1879), p. 108 ff. 

2 On p. 217 ff. below I have attempted a translation of the first 
twelve stanzas from Haegstad's corrected text. 

3 Op. cit.j p. 113. 


has been made to connect it with the second part 
of the German poem Kudrun. 

The story of Hethin and Hogni however was not 
confined to Norway and its colonies ; indeed it seems 
to have been popular throughout the whole Teutonic 
world. It forms the subject of the first part of the 
mediaeval German poem Kudrun^ndi. characters from 
the story are mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon poems 
Widsith^ 1. 21, and Deor, 1. 36 ff. 

For a treatment of the different versions of the 
story as it was known to men of old, the reader may 
be referred to Miss Clarke's Sidelights on Teutonic 
History during the Migration Period (Cambridge, 1911), 
p. I9off., and to Chambers' Widsith^ p. rooff. It 
may be mentioned here that in the main points of 
the story the carrying off of Hild and the subse- 
quent pursuit by the father all the versions are 
agreed. The German version, however, differs in 
many respects from those of the North (except that 
of the Hildina) especially in the fact that the com- 
batants become reconciled. The various Scandinavian 
versions of the story also differ somewhat in detail 
among themselves. The story translated below is the 
only one which mentions the slaying by Hethin of 
Hogni' s wife, and it is only here that Hethin is 
described as being of foreign origin. Moreover this 
is the only version in which the goddess Freyja is 
made responsible for the Unending Battle. Indeed 
the supernatural element, and especially the influence* 
of charms and spells, is more prominent in this version 
than in any of the others. It is only here, too, that 
we find the story of Gondul and the "potion of 
forgetfulness." On the other hand our version 


contains no reference to the statement made in 
Skdldska-parmal and Saxo that it was Hild who by 
her magic spells restored the dead to life each night. 

In our version of the story the character of 
Hild is left wholly undeveloped. Indeed the writers 
of the Romantic Sagas are always so much more 
interested in incident than in character that highly 
individualised personality is rare. Even when, as 
in the case of Hervor 1 , the very nature of the 
story presents an interesting and somewhat unusual 
personality, we are sometimes left with a feeling of 
dissatisfaction and a conviction that the writer did 
not realise the full merits and possibilities of his 
material. Hogni is the usual type of hot-headed 
implacable sea-rover. The character of Hethin, 
however, presents some interesting features and 
strikes us as more modern in conception. Naturally 
gentle of disposition, he had been forced by malignant 
powers into a situation foreign to his nature. Hardly 
characteristic of a viking chief are his genuine regret 
for the harm he had done and his anxiety that the men 
of Hogni and himself should not be called upon to 
forfeit their lives for his " crimes and misdeeds." The 
conventional viking, clear-eyed and purely material in 
his view of life, would have stayed to brave out the 
consequences. Hethin only wished" to go away some- 
where a long way off, where he would not each day 
have his wicked deeds cast in his teeth." His remorse 
had broken him down. "You will find it an easy 
matter to slay me when I am left alive last of all ! " 

The motif of the Everlasting Battle is not confined 

1 Cf. The Saga of Hervor and Heithrek translated below, p. 87 ff. 


to the story of Hethin and Hogni. Parallels can be 
found in many literatures, both ancient and modern 1 . 

This thdttr has been translated into English under 
the title of The Tale of Hogni and Hedinn in Three 
Northern Love Stories by W. Morris and Eirikr 
Magnusson, London, 1875. 

For a full bibliography of MSS., translations, and 
the general literature dealing with this saga, cf. 
Islandica, Vol. v, pp. 41, 42. 

I. To the East of Vanakvisl in Asia was a country 
called Asialand or Asiaheim. Its inhabitants were 
called JEsir and the chief city they called Asgarth. 
Othin was the name of their King, and it was a great 
place for heathen sacrifices. Othin appointed Njorth 
and Frey as priests. Njorth had a daughter called 
Freyja who accompanied Othin and was his mistress. 
There were four men in Asia called Alfregg, Dvalin, 
Berling and Grer, who dwelt not far from the King's 
hall, and who were so clever that they could turn 
their hands to anything. Men of this kind were 
called dwarfs. They dwelt in a rock, but at that time 
they mixed more with men than they do now. Othin 
loved Freyja very much, and she was the fairest of 
all women in her day. She had a bower of her own 
which was beautiful and strong, and it was said that 
if the door was closed and bolted, no-one could enter 
the bower against her will. 

It chanced one day that Freyja went to the rock 
and found it open, and the dwarfs were forging a 

1 Cf. Panzer, Hilde-Gudrun (Halle, 1901), passim ; Frazer, Pau- 
sanias's Description of Greece (London, 1898), Vol. n, p. 443 ff.; etc. 


gold necklace, which was almost finished. Freyja 
was charmed with the necklace, and the dwarfs with 
Freyja. She asked them to sell it, offering gold and 
silver and other costly treasures in exchange for it. 
The dwarfs replied that they were not in need of 
money, but each one said that he would give up his 

share in the necklace And at the end of four nights 

they handed it to Freyja. She went home to her bower 
and kept silence about it as if nothing had happened. 

II. There was a man called Farbauti who was a 
peasant and had a wife called Laufey. She was thin 
and meagre, and so she was called 'Needle.' They 
had no children except a son who was called Loki. 
He was not a big man, but he early developed a caustic 
tongue and was alert in trickery and unequalled in 
that kind of cleverness which is called cunning. He 
was very full of guile even in his youth, and for this 
reason he was called Loki the Sly. He set off to 
Othin' s home in Asgarth and became his man. 
Othin always had a good word for him whatever 
he did, and often laid heavy tasks upon him, all 
of which he performed better than could have been 
expected. He also knew almost everything that 
happened, and he told Othin whatever he knew. 

Now it is said that Loki got to know that Freyja 
had received the necklace. . .and this he told to Othin. 
And when Othin heard of it he told Loki to fetch 
him the necklace. Loki said that there was not much 
hope of that, because no-one could get into Freyja' s 
bower against her will. Othin told r^im to go, and 
not come back without the necklace.* So Loki went 
off howling, and everyone was glad that he had 
got into trouble. 


He went to Freyja's bower, but it was locked. He 
tried to get in, but could not. The weather outside 
was very cold and he became thoroughly chilled. 
Then he turned himself into a fly, and flew around 
all the bolts and along the whole of the woodwork, 
but nowhere could he find a hole big enough to 
enter by, right up to the gable. He found only a hole 
no bigger than would allow of the insertion of a needle. 


Through this hole he crept. And when he got inside 
he stared around, wondering if anyone was awake. But 
he found that the room was all wrapped in slumber. 

Then he went in and up to Freyja's bed and found 
that she was wearing the necklace and that the clasp 
was underneath her. Loki thereupon turned himself 
into a flea and settled on Freyja's cheek and stung 
her. till she awoke and turned over and went to sleep 
again. Then he laid aside his flea-form, drew the 
necklace from her gently, opened the door and 
departed, carrying the necklace to Othin. 

When Freyja awoke in the morning she found that 
the door was open, though it had not been forced, 
and that her lovely necklace was gone. She had a 
shrewd idea of the trick that had been played on her, 
and when she was dressed she went into the hall to 
King Othin, and told him that he had done ill to 
rob her of her trinket, and begged him to return it. 

Othin replied that considering how she had come 
by it she should never get it back : 

" Unless you bring about a quarrel between two 
kings, each of whom has twenty kings subject to him; 
so that they sriall fight under the influence of such 
spells and charms that as fast as they fall they shall 
start up again and fight on unless there be some 


Christian man so brave and so much favoured by the 
great good fortune of his liege lord that he shall dare 
to take arms and enter among the combatants and 
slay them. Then and not till then shall the labours of 
those princes be brought to an end whoever may be 
the chief who is destined to free them from the 
oppression and toil of their disastrous lot." 

Freyja agreed to this and recovered the necklace. 

III. Four and twenty years after the death of 
Frithfrothi a King called Erling ruled over the 
Highlands of Norway. He had a wife and two sons, 
of whom the elder was called Sorli the Strong, and 
the younger Erlend. They were promising young 
men. Sorli was the stronger of the two. As soon 
as they were old enough they took to raiding, and 
fought against the viking Sindri, the son of Sveigir, 
the son of Haki, a sea-king in the Skerries of the Elf. 
There fell Sindri the viking, and with him all his 
host; and Erlend the son of Erling also fell in that 
battle. After that Sorli sailed into the Baltic and 
harried there, and performed so many great deeds 
that it would take too long to recount them all. 

IV. There was a King called Halfdan who ruled 
Denmark; and his capital was at Roskilde. He 
married Hvethna the elder, and their sons were 
Hogni and Haakon. They were distinguished for 
their stature, strength and ability. As soon as they 
were old enough they took to piracy. 

Now we must return to Sorli and relate how one 
autumn he set sail for Denmark. King Halfdan had 
been intending to go to a gathering of kings. He 
was far advanced in years at the time when the events 
related here took place. He had such a fine warship 


that for strength and excellence of every kind it had 
no equal in all the countries of the North. It was 
riding at anchor in the harbour, but King Halfdan 
had gone ashore to give orders for a carousal before 
starting on his voyage. And when Sorli saw the 
warship, his heart was consumed with a burning 
desire to possess it at all possible hazards. And in- 
deed it is generally agreed that there never was a 
greater treasure of a warship than this in all the 
countries of the North, except the warships Ellithi 
and Gnoth and the Long Serpent. 

So he ordered his men to prepare themselves for 

"For we must slay King Halfdan and seize his 

A man called Saevar, his fo'c'sle-man and marshal, 
made answer: 

"That is not advisable, Sire, for Halfdan is a great 
chief and a famous man. Moreover he has two sons 
who will be certain to avenge him, for they are both 
very famous men already." 

" Though they be superior to the very gods," said 
Sorli, " yet we shall fight just as we have done before." 

They prepared for battle, and the news reached 
King Halfdan. He started up and went with all his 
men to his ships, and they prepared them for battle 
at once. Some of Halfdan' s men protested to him 
that it was not advisable to fight, and suggested that 
he should take to flight as the odds were too heavy 
against them. The King replied that they would all 
fall dead one on the top of another before he would 

Both sides now prepared to give battle, and closed 


forthwith in a fierce combat, the result of which was 
that King Halfdan fell with all his host; and Sorli 
took possession of the warship and everything on it 
that was of value. 

Then Sorli learned that Hogni had returned from 
a raiding expedition and was lying off Odins0. 
Sorli set off thither with his ships, and when they 
met, he told him of the death of Halfdan, his father, 
and made him an offer of reconciliation on his own 
terms, suggesting also that they should become 
foster-brothers; but Hogni declined all his offers. 
Then they joined battle, as is told in the poem dealing 
with Sorli. Haakon fought very boldly and slew 
Saevar, Sorli' s standard-bearer and fo'c'sle-man. Then 
Sorli slew Haakon, but Hogni slew King Erling, 
Sorli' s father. After that Hogni and Sorli fought 
together, and Sorli went down before Hogni from 
weariness and wounds. And Hogni afterwards 
caused him to be healed of his wounds, and they 
swore foster-brotherhood to one another, and both 
remained true to their oaths as long as they lived. 
Sorli was the first to die. He fell in the Baltic at the 
hands of vikings, as is told in the poem of which he 
is the subject. 

And when Hogni heard of Sorli' s death, he went 
raiding in the Baltic the same summer, and was 
victorious everywhere. He became king over those 
regions; and it is said that twenty kings were vassals 
to King Hogni and paid him tribute. Hogni became 
so famous on account of his great deeds and his 
raiding expeditions that his name was as well known 
in the north of Finland as away in Paris, and every- 
where in between. 


V. There was a King called Hjarrandi who ruled 
over Serkland. He had a wife and a son called 
Hethin, who quickly grew into a man remarkable 
for his strength, stature and ability. While still a 
youth he went on raiding expeditions and became a 
sea-king, harrying all round Spain and Greece and 
all the neighbouring kingdoms; so that he made 
twenty kings pay him tribute, holding their land and 
revenue as his vassals. In winter time Hethin used 
to stay at home in Serkland. It is said that on one 
occasion he went into a forest with his retinue. He 
left his men and found himself alone in a glade where 
he saw a woman, tall and fair, sitting on a throne. 
She spoke to him courteously, and when he asked her 
her name she said she was called Gondul. Then they 
talked together. She questioned him about his 
mighty deeds and he told her everything frankly 
and asked her whether she knew of any king to 
match himself in valour and hardihood, renown and 
prowess. She replied that she knew of one who did 
not fall short of him one who had twenty kings 
subject to him just as Hethin had; and she added 
that his name was Hogni and that he lived in the 
North, in Denmark. 

"I know one thing," said Hethin; "we have got 
to prove which of us is the more valiant." 

"It is high time for you to return to your men," 
said she; "they will be looking for you." 

Then they parted. He returned to his men, and 
she remained sitting there. 

At the very beginning of spring, Hethin prepared 
to set out. He had a warship, and three hundred and 
sixty men in it, and he made for the northern part 


of the world. He sailed all that summer and the 
following winter, and at the beginning of spring he 
reached Denmark. 

VI. King Hogni was at home at that time; and 
when he heard that a famous king had come to his 
shores, he invited him to a magnificent banquet, and 
Hethin accepted the invitation. And as they sat 
drinking, Hogni asked what motive brought Hethin 
so far north. 

Hethin replied that his object was to compete with 
him in contests which would make trial of their 
courage and daring and all their prowess and skill. 

Hogni said he was ready for this; and early next 
morning they went swimming and shooting together. 
They rode a-tilt, and performed feats of arms and of 
skill of all kinds. And in all their exploits they were 
so equal that no-one could distinguish which was the 
better of the two. After that they swore foster-brother- 
hood to one another, and bound themselves to share 
everything equally. 

Hethin was young and unmarried, but Hogni 
was somewhat older. He had married Hervor, the 
daughter of Hjorvarth, the son of Heithrek Ulfham. 
Hogni had a daughter who was called Hild, and who 
excelled all other women in beauty and under- 
standing. He loved his daughter exceedingly. He 
had no other children. 

VII. It is said that a little later Hogni went 
on a raiding expedition while Hethin stayed behind 
to look after his kingdom. It chanced one day that 
Hethin went into a forest to pass the time. The 
weather was mild. He again wandered .away from 
his men. He came upon a forest glade, and there he 


saw sitting on a throne the same woman whom he had 
seen before in Serkland only now he thought her 
even fairer than before. She was again the first to speak 
and chattered to him gaily. She was holding a horn 
with a lid to it. The King fell in love with her. She 
offered him a drink and he felt thirsty, as he had 
grown warm; so he took the horn and drank; and 
when he had drunk, a very wonderful change came 
over him, for he remembered nothing that had 
happened to him previously. He then sat down and 
talked to her. 

She asked him if what she had said to him before 
of the skill and courage of Hogni had proved true 
and Hethin replied that it was true enough "for 
he did not come short of me in any feat that we tried, 
and so we declared ourselves a match." 

" Yet you two are not equal," said she. 

"And why not?" asked Hethin. 

"For this reason," replied she: "Hogni has 
married a wife of high birth, whereas you have no 

He replied: "Hogni will marry me to Hild his 
daughter as soon as I like to ask him, and then I shall 
be as well married as he." 

"Your honour will be impaired," said she, "if 
you ask Hogni for a marriage alliance. If, as you 
profess, you lack neither courage nor valour, you 
would do better to carry off Hild by force, and put 
the Queen to death by taking her and laying her down 
in front of the prow of your warship, and letting it 
cut her in two when it is launched." 

The wickedness and forgetfulness contained in the 
ale which Hethin had drunk had so got the better of 



him that there seemed to him to be no alternative, 
and he had not the slightest recollection that he and 
Hogni were ' foster-brothers.' 

Presently they parted, and Hethin went back to 
his men. This took place in the late summer. 

Then Hethin ordered his men to get ready the 
warship, saying that he intended to go home to 
Serkland. Then he went into the ladies' bower, and 
took the Queen and Hild by either hand and led 
them out. Hild's clothes and jewels were also taken. 
There was no-one in the kingdom who had the 
courage to do anything; for they were afraid of 
Hethin and his men he glowered so fiercely. 

Hild asked Hethin what his intention was, and he 
told her. She besought him to think better of it, 

" My father will marry me to you if you ask him 
for me." 

"Ask for you?" echoed Hethin; "I will never 
do that." 

"And," she continued, "if you really must carry 
me off, even so my father will make it up with you. 
But if you do anything so wicked and unmanly as 
to put my mother to death, my father will never 
make it up with you. I have had a warning in dreams 
that you two will fight and slay one another. Yet 
I am afraid that there must be something still more 
terrible in store. It will be a great sorrow to me if 
I have to be the means of exposing my father to 
the ruinous effects of magic spells; nor shall I have 
any joy. in seeing you in difficulties and toils." 

Hethin replied that he cared not at all for the conse- 
quences, and that he would do as he had threatened. 


"You cannot mend it now," said Hild, "because 
in this case you are not your own master." 

Then Hethin went down to the sea-shore, and 
now was the warship launched. He thrust the Queen 
down in front of the prow, so that she perished. 
Hethin stepped into the warship. And when it was 
quite ready, he took it into his head to land alone, 
leaving his men behind; and he went into the same 
forest where he had gone before. And when he 
came into the glade, there he saw Gondul seated on 
her throne. They greeted one another cordially. 
Hethin told her what he had done and she expressed 
her approval. 

She had with her the horn which she had carried 
before, and she offered him a drink from it. He took 
it and drank; and when he had drunk, sleep fell upon 
him, and he let his head sink into her lap. And when 
he had fallen asleep, she slipped away from under 
his head, saying: 

"Now I devote both you and Hogni and all your 
followers, and lay you under all the spells imposed 
by Othin." 

Then Hethin awoke and saw the fleeting shadow 
of Gondul, but she appeared to him now to be big 
and black ; and he recalled everything and realised 
how much mischief he had done. He decided now 
to go away somewhere a long way off, where he 
would not each day have his wicked deeds cast in 
his teeth. So he went to his ship, and made haste 
to free her from her moorings. A fair breeze was 
blowing off the land, and so he sailed away with Hild. 

VIII. When Hogni returned home, he learnt that 
Hethin had sailed away with Hild and the warship 


Halfdanarnaut, leaving the dead body of the Queen 
in his tracks. Hogni was furious and bade his 
men start up on the spot and sail in pursuit of 
Hethin. This they did, and a fair breeze sprang up. 
Every evening they reached the harbour from which 
Hethin had sailed away in the morning. 

It happened one day that as Hogni was making 
for a harbour, Hethin' s sails were sighted out at sea; 
so Hogni and his men gave chase. As a matter of 
fact, it is said that at this point Hethin got a head wind 
against him, whereas Hogni had the luck to have a 
fair wind as before. Hethin then lay to off an island 
called Hoy, and there he rode at anchor. Hogni 
quickly came alongside, and when they met, Hethin 
greeted him courteously. 

" I must tell you, foster-brother," said Hethin, 
"that so great a misfortune has come upon me that 
no-one save you can remedy it. I have carried off 
your daughter and your warship, and put your wife 
to death, yet from no personal wickedness of my 
own, but rather from promptings of evil spirits and 
wicked spells. My wish now is that you shall have 
your own way entirely in this matter between yourself 
and me. I also offer to give up to you both Hild and 
the warship, and all the men and money contained 
in it, and to go to such distant lands that I can never 
return to the North nor into your sight as long as I 

Hogni replied: "Had you asked me for Hild 
I would have married her to you; and even in spite 
of your having carried her off by force we might have 
made up our quarrel. Now, however, since you have 
been guilty of such an outrage as to put the Queen to 


death in a most shameful manner, I certainly will not 
make terms with you. We will try here, on the spot, 
which of us is the more valiant fighter." 

Hethin replied: " It would be best, if nothing less 
than fighting will satisfy you, that we two should mea- 
sure our strength alone; for you have no quarrel with 
any man here save with me. There is no use in making 
innocent men pay for my crimes and evil deeds." 

Their followers all swore with one accord that 
they would rather fall dead in heaps than that they 
two should exchange blows alone. And when Hethin 
saw that nothing would satisfy Hogni, save that they 
should fight, he ordered his men to land, saying: 

" I will no longer hold back from Hogni, nor make 
excuses to avoid fighting. Let every man bear 
himself bravely!" 

They thereupon landed and fell to fighting. 
Hogni was full of fury, but Hethin was both dex- 
terous with his weapons and mighty in his stroke. 
It is told for fact that so potent was the evil charm 
in the spell that ev^n when they had cloven one 
another to the very shoulders, yet they started up as 
before and went on fighting. Hild sat in a grove and 
watched the battle. 

This harrowing torment continued to oppress 
them from the time when they began to fight until 
Olaf Tryggvason became King of Norway. It is 
said to have gone on for a hundred and forty-three 
years, until it fell to the lot of this famous man that 
one of his retinue released them from their grievous 
calamities and tragic doom. 

IX. In the first year of King Olaf's reign, it is 
said that he came one evening to the island of Hoy 


and anchored there. It was a regular occurrence in 
the neighbourhood of this island that watchmen 
disappeared every night, and no-one knew what had 
become of them. On this particular night it was Ivar 
the Gleam who kept guard. And when all the men 
on the ships were asleep, Ivar took the sword that 
Jarnskjold had had and that Thorstein his son had 
given him, and all his armour, and went up on to the 
island. And when he had landed on the island, he 
saw a man coming towards him. He was very tall 
and covered with blood, and his face was full of 
sorrow. Ivar asked him his name, and he replied that 
he was called Hethin, the son of Hjarrandi, and that 
he had come of a stock in far Serkland, adding : 

" I am telling you the truth when I say that the 
vanishing of the watchmen must be laid to the charge 
of me and Hogni, the son of Halfdan. For we and 
our men have been laid under such powerful and 
destructive spells that we go on fighting night and 
day; and this has continued for many generations, 
while Hild, the daughter of Hogni, sits and looks on. 
.It is Othin who has laid this spell upon us; and our 
only hope of redemption is that a Christian man should 
give battle to us. When that occurs, he whom the 
Christian slays shall not stand up again; and so will 
each one be freed from his distress. Now I would 
pray you that you will come to fight with us, because 
I know that you are a good Christian, and also that 
the King whom you serve is very lucky. I have a 
feeling too that we shall get some good from him and 
his men." 

Ivar agreed to go with him. 

Hethin was glad at that and said : 


" You must take care not to encounter Hogni face 
to face, and also not to slay me before you slay 
him; because no mortal man can encounter Hogni 
face to face and slay him if I die before him, 
for the glance of his eye strikes terror and spares 
none. Therefore this is the only way: I will attack 
him in front and engage him in battle, while you go 
behind and give him his death stroke. You will 
find it an easy matter to slay me, when I am left 
alive last of all." 

Then they went into the battle, and Ivar saw that 
all that Hethin had told him was quite true. He 
went behind Hogni and struck him on the head, 
and clove his skull down to the shoulders, whereupon 
Hogni fell down dead and never rose up again. After 
that he slew all the men who were fighting, and last 
of all he slew Hethin, which was no great task. 

When he returned to the ships the day was 
dawning. He went to the King and told him what 
he had done. The King was very well pleased with 
his work and told him that he had had great good 
luck. Next day they landed and made their way to the 
spot where the battle had taken place; but they saw 
no sign of what had happened there. Yet the blood- 
stains on Ivar's sword were visible proofs; and never 
again did watchmen disappear on that coast. 

After that the King went home to his realm. 


In the Saga of Thorgils and Haflithi, ch. 10 
(published in Sturlunga Saga^ ed. by G. Vigfusson, 
Vol. i, p. 19), we are told that at a wedding held at 
Reykjaholar in Iceland in 1119, "There was fun 
and merriment and great festivity and all kinds of 
amusements, such as dancing and wrestling and 

story-telling Although it is a matter of no great 

importance, some record has been preserved of 
the entertainment which was provided, and who were 
the people who provided it. Stories were told which 
many people now reject, and of which they disclaim 
any knowledge; for it seems that many people do not 
know what is true, but think some things to be true 
which are really pure invention and other things to 
be fictitious which are really true. Hralf of Skalmar- 
nes told a story about Hrongvith the Viking and 
Olaf 'the Sailors' King,' and about the rifling of the 
barrow of Thrain the berserk, and about Hromund 
Gripsson, and included many verses in his story. 
King Sverrir used to be entertained with this story 
and declared that fictitious stories like this were the 
most entertaining of any. Yet there are men who 
can trace their ancestry to Hromund Gripsson. 
Hrolf himself had composed this story." 

Among those whose ancestry was traced to 
Hromund Greipsson were Ingolf and Leif, the 
first Norwegian colonists of Iceland. According to 


Landnamabok, i, ch. 3, they were second cousins, 
and their grandfathers, who had come from Thela- 
mork in the south-west of Norway, were sons of 
Hromund. Olaf 'The Sailors' King' is mentioned 
also in the Saga of Grim Lothinkinni, ch. 3 ; and 
members of his family figure prominently in several 
other sagas. 

These persons may actually be historical. But 
the fictitious element is obvious enough in many 
places as, for instance, in Hromund' s voyage to the 
west. Thrain himself is vividly presented to us as 
"black and huge, with talons like bird's claws, all 
clad in glittering gold, seated on a throne, roaring 
loudly and blowing a fire!" This chapter is indeed 
a tale of 

Ghaisties and ghoulies, 

And lang-leggity beasties, 

And things that gae bump in the nicht. 

The most curious features of the saga, how- 
ever, are the blurred and perhaps confused remini- 
scences of stories and characters which form the 
subject of some of the Edda poems. The brothers 
Bild and Voli can hardly be other than corruptions 
of the god Balder and his avenger Vali. The name 
of Hromund's sword 'Mistletoe' too may be a 
reminiscence of the same story, though a sword of 
the same name is found in Hervarar Saga (ch. 2). 
Again, the account of Hromund's sojourn with 
Hagal, disguised as a grinding-maid, and the search 
made by Blind (ch. 8) are certainly reminiscences of 
the Edda poem Helgakvitha Hundingsbana II (some- 
times called V'olsungakvithd)) where the same adven- 
tures are recorded in connection with the same 


names, except that Helgi here takes the place of 

But the most interesting case, however, is the story 
of Hromund' s opponent Helgi the Bold and Kara 
(ch. 7). In this story, Helgi is said to be in the service 
of two kings called Hadding, and there can be little 
doubt that Helgi and Kara are identical with Helgi 
Haddingjaskati and Kara, whose adventures formed 
the subject of a lost poem called Karuljoth. This 
poem is referred to in the prose at the end of Helga- 
kvitha Hundingsbana //, where it is stated that they 
were reincarnations of Helgi Hundingsbani and 
Sigrun -just as the two latter were themselves re- 
incarnations of Helgi the son of Hjorvarth and 
Svava "but that is now said to be an old wives' 

Chapter 4 also has a special interest of its own. 
Breaking into barrows was a favourite exploit of 
the Norsemen, no doubt for the sake of the gold 
which they often contained. References to the 
practice are very common in the sagas, e.g. Grettissaga^ 
ch. 18; Hartharsaga^ ch. 15; cf. also Saxo Gram- 
maticus, Dan. Hist.^ p. 200 ff., etc. The ruthlessness 
with which the Norsemen plundered the Irish 
barrows is mentioned with great indignation in the 
Irish Chronicles. In the War of the Gaedhil with 
the Gaill^ cap. xxv, we read that certain Norse- 
men plundered in Ireland "until they reached 
Kerry; and they left not a cave there under ground 
that they did not explore." In the same work 
cap. LXIX, we are told that 

Never was there a fortress, or a fastness, or a mound, or a 
church, or a sacred place, or a sanctuary, when it was taken 


by that howling, furious, loathsome crew, which was not 
plundered by the collectors and accumulators of that wealth. 
Neither was there in concealment under ground in Erin, 
nor in the various solitudes belonging to Fians or to Fairies, 
any thing that was not discovered by these foreign, wonderful 
Denmarkians, through paganism and idol worship. 

Finally in the Annals of Ulster we read (sub anno 
862) that 

The cave of Achadh-Aldai (i.e. probably New Grange, 
near Dublin) and [the cave] of Knowth, and the cave of Fert- 
Boadan over Dowth, and the cave of the smith's wife were 
searched by the foreigners (i.e. Norsemen, etc.) which had 
not been done before. 

And in England as late as 1 344 Thomas of Walsing- 
ham records the slaying of the dragon that guarded 
a barrow, and the recovery of a great treasure of gold 
by the retainers of the Earl of Warrenne. 

Popular imagination believed that barrows were 
occupied by a ghostly inhabitant 'haugbui,' who 
guarded the treasure. This was sometimes a dragon, 
as in Beowulf, or a reanimated corpse, as in our saga; 
but whatever he was, he inspired the outside world 
with such fear that the breaking into a grave-mound 
came to be regarded as a deed of the greatest courage 
and prowess. The ' hogboy' (haugbut) of Maeshowe, 
a barrow in the Orkneys, is still a living reality in 
the imaginations of the country people 1 . 

Unfortunately The Saga of Hromund Greipsson is 
preserved only in late paper MSS., of which none 
apparently are earlier than the seventeenth century. 

1 Cf. Joseph Anderson, Scotland in Pagan Times: The Bronze 
and Stone Ages, pp. 278-279 (publ. by Douglas, Edinburgh, 


None of the verses of which the notice in the Saga 
of Thorgils and Haflithi speaks (cf. p. 58 above) have 
been preserved. There is, however, a rhymed version 
of the saga known as Griplur, dating apparently from 
about the year 1400 and evidently taken from a 
better text than any of those which have come down 
to us. A short extract from these rhymed verses will 
be found on pp. 1 7375. For a full discussion of the 
relationship of the Griplur to the extant texts of the 
saga and to the later ballads, the reader is referred to 
Kolbing, Beitrage zur Vergleichenden Geschichte der 
Romantischen Poesie und Prosa des Mittelalters (Breslau, 
1876), pp. 18183, an d to Andrews, Studies in the 
Fornaldarsogur Northrlanda 1 in Modern Philology, 
1911, 1912. 

A full bibliography of texts, translations and 
literature relating to this saga will be found in 
Islandica, Vol. v, p. 30. 


I. There was a King called Olaf, the son of 
Gnothar-Asmund, and he ruled over Garthar in 
Denmark, and was very famous. Two brothers, Kari 
and Ornulf, both mighty warriors, were entrusted 
with the defence of his territories. In that district 
there was a wealthy landowner called Greip, who 
had a wife called Gunnloth, the daughter of Hrok 
the Black. They had nine sons whose names were 

1 It is pointed out by Andrews, p. 2, that the form Lara (which 
appears in Rafn's and Asmundarson's editions, ch. 7) is due to 
a misreading. The MSS. have Cara. 


as follows: Hrolf, Haki, Gaut, Throst, Angantyr, 
Logi, Hromund, Helgi, Hrok. They were all 
promising fellows, though Hromund was the finest of 
them. He did not know what fear was. He was blue- 
eyed and fair-haired ; he was broad-shouldered, tall 
and strong, and resembled his mother's father. The 
King had two men called Bild and Voli. They were 
wicked and deceitful, but the King valued them highly. 

On one occasion King Olaf was sailing eastwards 
with his fleet along the coast of Norway. They put 
in at Ulfasker, and lying to off one of the islands they 
began to plunder. The King bade Kari and Ornulf 
go up on the island and look if they could see any 
warships. They went up on land and saw six war- 
ships under some cliffs, one of them being a most 
gorgeous 'Dragon.' Kari called to the men and 
asked whose ships they were. One of the scoundrels 
on the 'Dragon' stood up and declared his name to. 
be Hrongvith, adding: 

" But what may your name be?" 

Kari told him his own name and the name of his 
brother and added: 

"You are the worst man I know and I am going 
to chop you into fragments." 

Hrongvith replied: "For thirty-three years I have 
harried both summer and winter. I have fought 
sixty battles and been victorious every time with my 
sword Brynthvari, which has never grown blunt. 
Come here to-morrow, Kari, and I will sheathe it in 
your breast." 

Kari said he would not fail to appear. 

Hrongvith had it in his power to choose every day 
who was to perish by the point of his sword. 


II. The brothers went back to the King and told 
him the news. The King gave orders to prepare for 
battle, and his men set to work. The hosts met 
and a stiff fight took place. The brothers fought 
bravely, Kari slaying eight or twelve men with every 
blow. When Hrongvith saw that, he leapt up on the 
King's ship, attacked Kari and thrust him through 
with his sword. As soon as Kari was wounded he 
called to the King: 

"Farewell, Sire. I am going to be Othin's guest!" 

Hrongvith spitted Ornulf on his spear, and when 
both the brothers had fallen, Hrongvith called out 
to the rest to surrender. Then a murmur of dis- 
content arose in the King's host. No blade would 
wound Hrongvith. Now it is told that Hromund 
Greipsson was in the King's retinue. He took a club 
in his hand, fastened a long grey goat's beard on his 
face, drew a hood over his head, and then rushed to 
the fight, where he found the two brothers lying dead. 
He rescued the King's standard, and began to deal 
death among the scoundrels with his club. 

Hrongvith asked who he was and if he were the 
father of that wretched Kari. 

Hromund told him his name and said he was 
going to avenge the brothers: 

"Though Kari was no relative of mine, I will slay 
you all the same." 

And thereupon he dealt Hrongvith such a blow 
with his club that his head was all awry afterwards. 

Hrongvith said: "I have been in many battles, 
but I never got such a blow!" 

Hromund struck another blow at Hrongvith and 
broke his skull. At the third stroke he died. After 


that all the survivors surrendered to the King, and so 
the battle ended. 

III. Then Hromund proceeded to ransack the 
ship, and came upon a man prepared to offer resist- 
ance in the prow. He asked the man's name; and 
he replied that he was called Helgi the Bold, a 
brother of Hrongvith, and added: " I have no mind 
to sue for peace." Hromund gave orders that the 
wounds of Helgi the Bold should be attended to. 
Then he sailed away to Sweden and was entrusted 
with the defence of part of the country. 

After that King Olaf sailed away to the British 
Isles with his host, as far as the Hebrides, where they 
landed and made a raid. There was a man dwelling 
hard by whose cattle had been taken and driven 
away by the King's men, and he was bewailing his 
loss piteously. Hromund went and asked him who 
he was. 

The man replied that his name was Mani and that 
his home was a very little way off; and he said that 
they would win more honour by breaking into 
barrows and plundering the treasures of ghosts. 

Hromund asked him to tell him if he knew any- 
thing about places of this kind. 

Mani replied that he certainly did: 

" There was a berserk called Thrain, a big, strong 
man who was deeply versed in sorcery. He conquered 
Valland and was King there. He was put into a 
barrow with a sword, armour and great treasure; 
but no-one is in a hurry to go there." 

Hromund asked in which direction they should 
sail in order to reach it, and he replied that they 
could reach it by sailing due south for six days. 


Hromund thanked the man for his information, gave 
him money, and restored his cattle to him. Then 
they sailed away in the direction indicated by the man, 
and at the end of six days they saw the barrow straight 
in front of their ship. 

IV. They went from the British Isles to Valland, 
and found the barrow and immediately set to work 
to break it open. And when six days had elapsed 
they came upon a trap-door in the barrow. There 
they beheld a big fiend, black and huge, all clad in 
glittering gold, and seated on a throne. He was 
roaring loudly and blowing a fire. 

Hromund asked: "Now who will enter the bar- 
row? Whoever does so shall have his choice of three 

Voli replied: "No-one will be anxious to forfeit 
his life for them. There are sixty men here, and that 
troll will be the death of them all." 

Hromund said: "Kari would have ventured on it, 
had he been alive," and he added what was true 
enough that even if he were let down by a rope, 
it would not be so bad to struggle against eight others 
as against Thrain. 

Then Hromund climbed down by a rope. It was 
during the night; and when he had got down, he 
gathered up a great amount of treasure and bound 
it to the end of the rope. 

Thrain had been King of Valland in bygone days 
and had won all his victories by magic. He had 
wrought great evil; and when he was so old that he 
could fight no longer, he had got himself shut up 
alive in the barrow, and much treasure along with 


Now Hromund saw a sword hanging up on a 
pillar. He took it down, girded it on, and marched 
up to the throne, saying : 

" It is time for me to leave the barrow since there 
is no-one to stop me. But what ails you, old fellow? 
Have you not seen me gathering up your money 
while you sit quietly by, you hateful cur? Were you 
not ashamed to look on while I took your sword 
and necklace and ever so many more of your trea- 

Thrain said that he cared for nothing if only he 
would let him sit quietly on his throne: " Formerly," 
he continued, " I used to be the first to fight. I must 
have become a great coward if I let you rob me of 
my wealth single handed; but I'm going to prevent 
your taking my treasures; you had better beware of 
me, dead though I am." 

Then said Hromund: "Hoist yourself up on your 
legs, coward and weakling, and take back your sword 
from me if you dare." 

The ghost replied : " There is no glory in attacking 
me with a sword when I am unarmed. I would rather 
try my strength in wrestling with you." 

Then Hromund flung down the sword and trusted 
to his strength. When Thrain saw that, he took down 
his cauldron which he kept above him. He was by no 
means pleasant to watch as he blew up his fire, ready 
to make a meal from the cauldron. The body of the 
cauldron was full, and there was a big flame beneath 
its feet. Thrain was wearing a gold-wrought mantle. 
Both his hands were crooked and his ringer nails 
were like talons. 

Hromund said: "Get down off your throne, vile 



wretch, now that you have been robbed of all your 

Then said the ghost: "To be sure, it is high time 
to get on my legs, since you taunt me with lack of 

Day departed, and evening drew on, and it became 
dark in the barrow. Then the ghost began wrestling 
with Hromund and threw down his cauldron. 
Hromund put forth all his strength, and they fought 
so hard that rubble and stones were torn*up. Then the 
ghost sank down on one knee, saying : 

"You press me hard: you are indeed a brave 

Hromund replied: "Stand up on your feet again 
without support. You are much weaker than Mani 
the peasant said." 

Then Thrain turned himself into a troll, and the 
barrow was filled with a horrible stench: and he 
stuck his claws into the back of Hromund's neck, 
tearing the flesh from his bones down to his loins, 

"You need not complain if the game is rough 
and your body sore, for I am going to tear you limb 
from limb." 

" I cannot imagine," cried Hromund, " how such 
a cat has got into this barrow!" 

The ghost replied : " You must have been brought 
up by Gunnloth. There are not many like you." 

" It will go ill with you," said Hromund, "if you 
go on scratching me long." 

They wrestled hard and long till everything round 
them shook. At last Hromund tripped him and brought 
him down. It had become very dark by this time. 


Then said the ghost : " By guile you have overcome 
me and taken my sword. It was that that brought 
our struggle to this issue. I have lived in my barrow 
for a long time, brooding over my riches; but it is 
not wise to trust too much to one's treasures, how- 
ever good they may seem. Never would I have 
thought that you, Mistletoe, my good sword, would 
do me a hurt." 

Hromund then freed himself and seized the sword, 
and said: 

"Now tell me how many men you have slain 
in single combat with Mistletoe." 

" A hundred and forty four," said the ghost, "and 
I never got a scratch. I tried my skill with King 
Seming who was in Sweden, and he was of the 
opinion that it would take a long time to vanquish 

Hromund said: "You have been a curse on men 
for a long time, and it will be a good deed to kill 
you at once." 

Then he cut off the ghost's head, and burned him 
to ashes on the fire; and then he went out of the 
barrow. They asked him on what terms he and 
Thrain had parted, and he replied that matters had 
gone according to his wishes : " For I cut off his 

Hromund kept for himself the three treasures 
which he had won in the barrow the ring, the 
necklace and Mistletoe; but everyone received a 
share of the money. 

Then King Olaf sailed away to his kingdom in the 
north, and settled down peacefully in his own country. 

V. After that Hromund grew very famous. He 


was generous and popular. One day he gave to a 
man called Hrok a ring of solid gold which weighed 
an ounce. Voli got to know about that and slew 
Hrok by night and stole the ring. And when the 
King heard of it he said he would be even with Voli 
some day for such a piece of villainy. 

The King had two sisters, one called Dagny and 
the other Svanhvit. Svanhvit was better than her 
sister in every way, and had no equal between Sweden 
and Halogaland. 

Hromund Greipsson was at home at this time and 
became friendly with Svanhvit; but he took no pre- 
cautions against either Voli or Bild. On one occasion 
she told Hromund that Voli and Bild were busy 
slandering him to the King. 

He said : " I am not afraid of any low wretch, and 
I shall talk to you as long as you give me the chance." 

This slander became so serious that Hromund 
and his brother had to leave the King's retinue and 
go home to their father. 

A short time after, Svanhvit was talking to King 
Olaf and said : 

"Hromund, who brought us the greatest glory, 
has now been banished from the royal retinue; and 
in his place you retain two men who care for neither 
honour nor virtue." 

The King replied: "A rumour reached me that 
he intended to betray you; and the sword shall part 
your love." 

" You have very soon forgotten," said she, " the time 
when he went alone into the barrow; and no-one else 
dared. Voli and Bild will be hanged first." 

And having said this, she departed hastily. 


VI. Some time after this, two kings, both called 
Hadding, came from Sweden, and Helgi the 
brother of Hrongvith was with them. They chal- 
lenged King Olaf to battle with them on the frozen 
surface of Lake Vener in the western part of the land. 
He preferred fighting them to abandoning his 
country, so he summoned Hromund and his brothers 
to follow him. Hromund, however, declined to go, 
saying that Bild and Voli were mighty fine fellows 
and always fought for the King. 

The King departed with his host. Svanhvit was 
grieved at what had happened, and went to Hro- 
mund's home. Hromund welcomed her. 

"Hearken now to my prayer," said she, "more 
favourably than you did to my brother's request, 
and help the King. I will give you a shield with a 
strap attached. Nothing can harm you while you 
wear this strap." 

Hromund thanked her for the gift and she was 
comforted; so he and his eight brothers made ready 
to set out. 

In the meantime the King and his host reached the 
frozen Vener, where the Swedish army was waiting 
for them. And in the morning, as soon as it was light 
enough to fight, they armed themselves on the ice, 
and the Swedes made a fierce onslaught. Bild was 
slain as soon as the battle began, but Voli was no- 
where to be seen. King Olaf and King Hadding 
were wounded. 

Hromund had pitched his tent near the side of 
the lake. His brothers armed themselves early in 
the morning; but Hromund said: 

" I had a bad dream in the night; some misfortune 


is in store for us, and I am not going into the battle 

His brothers replied that it was disgraceful not 
to have the courage to support the King's army, when 
he had come for that very purpose. 

They went into the battle and fought bravely, 
and all those of the army of the Haddings who came 
against them fell in heaps. A witch had come among 
them in the likeness of a swan. She sang and worked 
such powerful spells that none of Olaf's men took 
heed to defend themselves. Then she flew over the 
sons of Greip, singing loudly. Her name was Kara. 
At that same moment Helgi the Bold encountered 
the eight brothers and slew every one of them. 

VII. At this point Hromund entered the battle. 
Helgi the Bold caught sight of him and cried : 

"Here comes the man who slew my brother 
Hrongvith. Now you must beware of that sword of 
his which he got in the barrow. You held aloof 
while I slew your brothers." 

"You need not question my courage, Helgi," 
replied Hromund, "for one or other of us must fall 

Helgi said: "Mistletoe is such a heavy weapon 
that you cannot use it. I will lend you another that 
you can manage." 

"You need not taunt me with faint-hearted- 
ness," cried Hromund. " Remember the blow which 
I dealt Hrongvith, when I shattered his skull to 

Helgi said : " You have bound a girl's garter round 
your hand, Hromund. Lay aside the shield which 
you are carrying. It will be impossible to wound you 


so long as you carry that: I am sure that you are 
dependent on that girl." 

Hromund could not endure these galling words, 
and flung down his shield. Helgi the Bold had 
always been victorious, and it was by means of magic 
that he had gained his success. His mistress' name 
was Kara she who was present in the form of a 
swan. Helgi brandished his sword so high over his 
head that it chopped of? the swan's leg. He drove the 
sword down into the ground as far as the hilt, and said : 

" My luck has fled now; and it was a bad business 
when I missed you." 

Hromund replied: "You were very unlucky, 
Helgi, to be the slayer of your own mistress, and you 
will have no more happiness." 

Kara dropped down dead. And with the stroke 
that Helgi made at Hromund, when the sword was 
buried up to the hilt, the point of the sword caught 
Hromund's belly and ripped it open, and Helgi 
fell forward with the force of his own stroke. Hro- 
mund was not behindhand then : he struck Helgi on 
the head with Mistletoe, cleaving helmet and skull 
down to the shoulders, and breaking a piece out of 
the sword. Then Hromund took his belt-knife and 
thrust it into his belly where there was a gaping 
wound, and forced back the paunch fat which was 
hanging out. At the same time he stitched up the 
edges of his belly with a cord, bound his clothes 
firmly over it, and so continued fighting valiantly. 
Men fell dead in heaps before him, and he fought 
on till midnight. Then the survivors of the army of 
the Haddings fled, and thereupon the battle came to 
an end. 


Then Hromund saw a man standing before him 
on the ice, and he felt convinced that he must have 
made the ice on the lake by spells. He perceived 
that it was Voli. He remarked that it was not un- 
fitting that he should give him his deserts, and 
rushed at him, brandishing Mistletoe and intending 
to strike him. Voli blew the sword out of his hand, 
and it happened to light on a hole in the ice, and 
sank to the bottom. 

Then Voli laughed and said: "You are doomed 
now that you have lost hold of Mistletoe." 

Hromund replied: "You will die before me." 

Then he leapt upon Voli and caught him up and 
dashed him down against the ice, so that his neck- 
bone was broken. There lay the great sorcerer dead! 
But Hromund sat him down on the ice, saying: 

" I did not take the girl's advice, so now I have 
got fourteen wounds; and in addition to that my 
eight brothers lie slain, and my good blade Mistletoe 
has fallen into the lake, and nothing will ever make 
up to me for the loss of my sword." 

Then he went back to his tent and got some rest. 

VIII. Now the King's sisters were sent for. 
Svanhvit examined Hromund's wound, and stitched 
his stomach together and tried to bring him round. 
She got him taken to a man called Hagal to be cured. 
This man's wife was very skilful, and they made 
him welcome and nursed him back to health. Hro- 
mund discovered that the couple were skilled in 

The man was a fisherman, and one day when he 
was fishing, he caught a pike, and on going home 
and cutting it open he found Hromund's sword 


Mistletoe in its maw, and gave it to him. Hromund 
was glad to get it and kissed the sword-hilt and 
rewarded the peasant richly. 

In King Hadding's army was a man called Blind 
the Evil. He told the King that Hromund was alive 
and was being nursed secretly in the home of the 
peasant couple. The King refused to believe it, 
declaring that they would not dare to conceal him; 
but he ordered a search to be made. Blind and some 
other men went to the dwelling of Hagal and his 
wife and asked if Hromund was under their care. 
The woman said he would not be found there. Blind 
searched thoroughly, but did not find Hromund be- 
cause the woman had hidden him under her cauldron. 
Blind and his companions went away, and when they 
had gone some distance Blind said : 

"Our quest has not been fruitful. We must go 
back again." 

They did so. They went back and found the 
woman. Blind told her that she was a crafty one and 
had hidden Hromund under her cauldron. 

" Look there then and see if you can find him," 
said she. This she said because, when she saw them 
returning, she had dressed Hromund in woman's 
clothes and set him to grind and turn the handmill. 
The men now made search in the house and when 
they came upon the girl turning the handmill they 
sniffed all round the place, but she cast an un- 
friendly look on the King's men, and they went away 
again without finding anything. 

And when they had gone away, Blind said that 
the peasant's wife had made things look different 
from what they were, and he had his suspicions that 


it must have been Hromund who was turning the 
mill, dressed as a woman. "And I see we have 
been deceived. We shall do no good struggling with 
the woman for she is more cunning than we." 

They cursed her and went back home to the King, 
leaving matters as they stood. 

IX. In the following winter Blind saw many 
things in a dream, and on one occasion he told his 
dream to the King, saying : 

" I dreamed that a wolf came running from the 
east, and bit you and wounded you, O King." 

The King said he would interpret his dream as 
follows : 

"A King will come here from some other land, 
and his coming will be terrible at first; yet afterwards 
peace will be brought about." 

And Blind said that he dreamed he saw many 
hawks perched on a house "And there I espied 
your falcon, Sire. He was all bare and stripped of 
his feathers." 

The King said : " A wind will come from the clouds 
and shake our castle." 

Blind related a third dream as follows. 

" I saw a herd of swine running from the south 
towards the King's hall and rooting up the earth 
with their snouts." 

The King said: "That signifies the flood-tide, wet 
weather, and grass springing from moisture, when 
the sun shines on the heath." 

Blind related a fourth dream : 

" I thought I saw a terrible giant come hither 
from the east; he gave you a great wound with his 


The King said: "Messengers from some King 
will come into my hall. They will provoke enmity 
and I shall be angered thereby." 

"Here is a fifth dream," said Blind; "I dreamed 
that a terrible serpent lay coiled round Sweden." 

"A splendid warship will land here, loaded with 
jewels," said the King. 

"I had a sixth dream," said Blind; "I dreamed 
that dark clouds came over the land with claws and 
wings, and flew away with thee, O King; and I 
dreamed moreover that there was a serpent in the 
house of Hagal the peasant. He attacked people in 
a terrible manner. He devoured both you and me 
and all the men belonging to the court. Now what 
can that signify?" 

The King said: " I have heard that there is a bear 
lurking not far from Hagal's dwelling. I will go and 
attack the bear, and it will be in a great rage." 

"Next I dreamed that a dragon's form had been 
drawn round the King's hall, and Hromund's belt 
was hanging from it." 

The King said: "You know that Hromund lost 
his sword and belt in the lake ; and are you afraid of 
Hromund after that?" 

Blind dreamed yet more dreams which he told to 
the King; and the King interpreted them all to his 
liking, and none of them according to their real 

But now Blind related one more dream this time 
one which concerned himself. 

" I dreamed that an iron ring was fixed round my 

The King said: "The meaning of this dream is 

78 THE SAGAS [PT. i 

that you are going to be hanged; and that will be 
the end of both of us." 

X. After that King Olaf gathered together an 
army and went to Sweden. Hromund accompanied 
him, and they took the hall of King Hadding by 
surprise. He was in bed in an outer chamber, and 
was not aware of their presence till they smashed 
in the door of his room. Hadding shouted to his 
men and asked who was disturbing the peace of the 
night. Hromund told him who they were. 

The King said: "You are anxious to avenge your 

Hromund said that he had not come to waste 
words about the death of his brothers, adding " Now 
you will have to pay for it and perish on the spot." 

Then one of King Hadding' s champions, as big 
as a giant, leapt up; but Hromund slew him. King 
Hadding covered himself up in bed and got no 
wound, because every time Hromund cut down at 
him, the sword turned and came down flat on him. 
Then Hromund took a club and beat King Hadding 
to death. 

Then said Hromund: " Here I have laid low King 
Hadding, the most famous man I have ever seen." 

The man Blind, who was also called Bavis, was bound 
and then hanged; and so his dream was fulfilled. 

They got a quantity of gold and other booty there, 
and then went home. King Olaf married Svanhvit 
to Hromund. They were devoted to one another, 
and had a family of sons and daughters ; they were 
people of great distinction in every respect. Kings 
and great champions sprang from their stock. 

Here ends the Saga of Hromund Greipsson, 


The Saga of Hervor and Heithrek is found in two 
vellums, the Hauksbok (A.M. 544), dating from c. 1 325, 
which for convenience is usually called //; and 
MS. 2845* i n tne Royal Library at Copenhagen, 
dating from the fifteenth century, and generally 
called R. Besides these there are a number of paper 
MSS. (h) dating from the seventeenth century. Ac- 
cording to Bugge 2 , these have no independent value 
and can contribute nothing to our knowledge of 
the text up to the point at which the vellums break 
off. They are useful however as continuing the 
Saga beyond this point. H comes to an end with 
Gestumblindi's second riddle, while R breaks off 
just before the close of ch. 12. Beyond this point we 
are entirely dependent on the paper MSS. One of 
these (A.M. 345 written in 1694) was adopted by 
Rafn 3 as the text for his edition of the Saga, though 
he gives H in full as an Appendix. 

The MSS. differ considerably among themselves. 
For instance R omits the first chapter of the Saga, 
but contains Hjalmar's Death Song. Here, too, many 
of the riddles are wanting, and the order of the rest 

1 This MS. is identical with the one referred to as A in the Intro- 
duction to the Tbattr ofNornagest (cf. p. 1 1 above). 

2 Quoted by Heusler, Eddica Minora (Dortmund, 1903), p. vii. 

3 Fornaldarsogur Northrlanda (Copenhagen, 1829), Vol. i; Anti- 
quites russes etc. (Copenhagen, 1850-2), Vol. i, 


is quite different from that of h. Finnur Jonsson 1 is 
of the opinion that R is the best text throughout; 
but Heusler 2 , like Valdimar Asmundarson, keeps 
the order of the riddles as in h. Petersen 3 regards 
H as the best text and follows it so far as it goes ; but 
when it breaks off he follows R mainly, although he 
considers the latter MS. to be defective in many places, 
" at the beginning, middle and end." He has supplied 
the lacunae in it from Arn. Magn. 192, the paper 
MS. which comes nearest to it, and also from others, 
but with greater reservation. Valdimar Asmundarson, 
like Petersen, and no doubt influenced by him, has 
followed H very closely in his edition of the Saga 4 
till it breaks off, and after that the paper MSS. (h} 
most closely related to it. He does not appear to have 
used R, and therefore omits the details of the fight on 
Sams0 and Hjalmar's Death Song. Asmundarson' s 
version has been followed closely in the translation 
given below, but one or two interesting passages 
omitted by H have been translated separately (see 
Appendix on pp. 1441 50) from the text printed from 
R in Wimmer's Oldnordisk Ltesebog^ and from some 
short excerpts from h printed at the close of Peter- 
sen's edition of the Saga. 

For a full bibliography of the texts, translations, 
and literature dealing with this saga the reader is 
referred to Islandica, Vol. v, pp. 2226. 

1 Oldnorske og Oldislandske Litter aturs Historie, Vol. n, p. 839 f. 

2 Eddie a Minor a, pp. 106-120. 

3 Cf. Forord to N. M. Petersen's edition of Hervarar Saga ok 
Heithreks Konungs (published by the 'Nordiske Literatur-Samfund,' 
Copenhagen, 1847). 

4 See Fornaldarsogur Northrlanda (Reykjavik, 1891), Vol. i, 
pp. 309-360. 5 Copenhagen, 4th edition, 1889. 


In this saga we have what appears to be the 
history of a certain family for more than four 
generations. From the point of view of construction, 
the story can hardly be regarded as a success. Yet 
it contains scenes at least equal to any others which 
can be found among sagas of this kind. It also 
embodies a considerable amount of poetry which is 
not found elsewhere. Some of this is of high merit, 
and one piece, dealing with the battle between the 
Huns and the Goths, is evidently of great antiquity. 

The Saga opens in a purely mythical milieu with 
Guthmund in Glasisvellir, to whom we have already 
had reference in the story of Nornagest. Next we 
have a typical story of the Viking Age the adven- 
tures of the sons of Arngrim and their fight on 
Sams0. This story is known to us from other sources, 
the earliest being the poem Hyndluljdth (str. 24), 
which according to Finnur Jonsson 1 cannot be later in 
date than the latter part of the tenth century, though 
Mogk 2 is inclined to doubt this. Other references 
occur in the Saga of Qrvar-Odd, Saxo's Danish 
History, the later ballads translated below, etc. 

We then pass on to the account of Hervor, the 
daughter of Angantyr (which is only found here and 
in the ballads), and the striking poem in which she 
is represented as visiting her father's grave-mound to 
obtain his sword. 

The next and longest section contains the life of 
Hervor' s son Heithrek, which is peculiar to this 
saga and which in its earlier part likewise seems to be 

1 Oldnorske og Oldislandske Litteraturs Historie, Vol. i, p. 201. 

2 Geschichte der Norzvegiscb-Isldndischen Literatur (Strassburg, 
1904), p. 605. 


a story of the Viking Age. Towards the end, how- 
ever, it gradually dawns upon us that there has been 
an unconscious change of scene, and that Heithrek, 
instead of being a Viking prince of the Northern 
coasts, is now represented as a King of the Goths, 
somewhere in the East of Europe apparently in 
the neighbourhood of the Dnieper. In the last 
section of the story, dealing with the adventures of 
Angantyr and Hloth, the sons of Heithrek, there 
is no longer any reminiscence of the Viking Age or 
the North of Europe. Here we are away back among 
the Goths and Huns in the fifth or the latter part of 
the fourth century. 

Throughout this strange concatenation of scenes 
a connecting link is afforded by the magic flaming 
sword, which is handed on from generation to 
generation, and which can never be sheathed without 
having dealt a death wound. 

It is abundantly clear that the latter part of the 
story is of a totally different origin from the first part, 
and in reality many centuries earlier. The prose here 
is for the most part little more than a paraphrase of 
the poem, which probably has its roots in poetry of 
the Gothic period. But how this story came to be 
joined on to a narrative of the Viking Age is far from 

It is also interesting to note that some of the 
characters in the saga are repetitions of one another. 
At all events what is said about Hervor the daughter 
of Heithrek in the latter part of the story bears a 
strong resemblance to the description of the more 
prominent Hervor, the daughter of Angantyr, in 
the first part. 


Three poems of considerable length are preserved 
in the story. The Riddles of Gestumblindi, though 
somewhat tedious as a whole, afford a better 
specimen of this type of composition than is to 
be found elsewhere in early Norse literature. They 
cannot fail to be of considerable interest to any- 
one who studies the Anglo-Saxon Riddles, though 
unlike the latter they are wholly Teutonic in spirit 
and form. Direct Latin influence appears to be 
entirely absent. 

Gestumblindi' s Riddles, while they belong essen- 
tially to popular literature, yet contain many arresting 
phrases which show a minute observation of nature. 
They illustrate the condensed, proverbial type of 
wisdom that prevails in a primitive state of society, 
as well as its keen interest and delight in the little 
things of life. They can hardly be called literature 
as we understand the term; they are rather the stuff 
of which literature is made. But though it is a far 
cry from these little nature verses to the more beauti- 
ful and more ambitious nature poems of Burns and 
Tennyson, yet Gestumblindi' s loving interest in 
"every creature of earth" surprised even King 
Heithrek into comment. The keen and whimsical 
observation that noted that even a spider is a 
"marvel" and that it "carries its knees higher than 
its body" is the same spirit that inspired a poem to 


Wee sleekit, cowrin', tim'rous beastie. 

The poet who noticed that water falling as hail on 
rock looks white by contrast, yet forms little black 
circles when it falls into the sand as rain, had much 
in common with one who noticed that rock and sand 



yield opposite sounds when struck by the same 

Low on the sand and loud on the stone 

The last wheel echoed away. 

But though these things are pleasing in them- 
selves, they are, of course, slight. Gestumblindi 
cannot rise to the heights of true poetry reached 
by Burns or Tennyson. 

Besides the Riddles, this saga has preserved for 
us two far finer poems in fact two of the finest 
Norse poems that we possess the dialogue between 
Hervor and Angantyr at the Barrows of Sams0, and 
the narrative of the great battle between the Goths and 
the Huns, the Chevy Chase of the North. The ruth- 
lessness and barbaric splendour of the Hunnish 
leaders, the cruelty and the poetry of warfare a thou- 
sand years ago, are here vividly depicted in Norse 
verse at its simplest and best. 

We may notice too the little vignettes that appear 
from time to time both in the poetry itself and in the 
prose narrative, some of which is evidently derived 
from lost verses. Hervor standing at sunrise on the 
summit of the tower and looking southward towards 
the forest; Angantyr marshalling his men for battle 
and remarking drily that there used to be more of 
them when mead drinking was in question; great 
clouds of dust rolling over the plain, through which 
glittered white corslet and golden helmet, as the 
Hunnish host came riding on. 

The dialogue between Hervor and Angantyr, 
despite a certain melodramatic element in the setting, 
is treated with great delicacy and poetic feeling, and 
an atmosphere of terror and mystery pervades the 


whole poem. The midnight scene in the eerie and 
deserted burial-ground, the lurid flickering of the 
grave fires along the lonely beach, the tombs opening 
one by one as the corpses start to life all these work 
on the imagination and create an atmosphere of 
dread. The poet understood the technique of pre- 
senting the supernatural, and he is deliberately vague 
and suggestive. Much more is implied than is stated, 
and much is left to the imagination. 

The greatest charm of the poem, however, lies 
in the sympathetic treatment of Hervor. The Hervor 
of the prose narrative is perfectly consistent with the 
Hervor of the poem, but at the same time the poem 
which is probably more than a century older than 
the saga would lead us to conclude that her char- 
acter was not correctly understood by the writer of 
the saga. Obviously unsympathetic, he denounces 
her with an indignation which would have made the 
writer of the poem smile. 

"She grew up to be a beautiful girl... but as soon 
as she could do anything it was oftener harm than 
good; and when she had been checked she escaped 
to the woods.... And when the Earl heard of it he 
had her caught and brought home." 

The picture which the poem presents to us is 
that of a high-spirited girl, headstrong and impulsive, 
not unlike Brynhild in the Volsung story. When 
she goes to the barrows, every nerve is strung 
up to gain the treasure that has fired her imagi- 
nation : 

What care I though the death-fires blaze, 
They sink and tremble before my gaze, 
They quiver out and die! 


But a reaction comes when she holds the sword 
in her hands at last : 

Surely in terror I drew my breath 
Between the worlds of life and death 

When the grave fires girt me round. 

Surveying the saga as a whole, perhaps the most 
striking feature is its extraordinary diversity of 
interest. It would be difficult to find elsewhere in 
Norse literature or indeed perhaps in any literature 
so great a variety of subjects and of literary forms 
brought together within such narrow limits. 

O O 

Of the poems contained in the saga, the first is 
romantic, the second gnomic, the third heroic 
and the prose narrative itself is not less varied in 
character. The conclusion of the saga appears to be 
purely historical; indeed it is generally regarded 
as one of the most important authorities for early 
Swedish history. Elsewhere also historical elements 
are probably not wanting, but they are interwoven 
in a network of romance and folklore. Thus who- 
ever King Heithrek may have been, the part which 
he has come to play in the saga is chiefly that of 
linking together a number of folk-tales and illus- 
trating popular saws. As regards chronology, the 
war described in ch. 1215 must belong to a period 
nearly seven centuries before the incidents related 
at the close of the saga. Still more strange is the 
fact that the victor in this war, the younger Angantyr, 
would seem to have lived some four or five centuries 
before his great grandfather and namesake who 
perished at Sams0 if indeed the latter story rests 
on any genuine tradition. In spite of these and 


similar inconsistencies, however, the saga is on 
the whole perhaps the most attractive of all the 


Here begins the Saga of King Heithrek the Wise. 

I. It is said that in the days of old the northern part 
of Finnmark was called Jotunheimar, and that there 
was a country called Ymisland to the south between 
it and Halogaland. These lands were then the home 
of many giants and half-giants ; for there was a great 
intermixture of races at that time, because the giants 
took wives from among the people of Ymisland. 

There was a king in Jotunheimar called Guthmund. 
He was a mighty man among the heathen. He dwelt 
at a place called Grund in the region of Glasisvellir. 
He was wise and mighty. He and his men lived for 
many generations, and so heathen men believed that 
the fields of immortality lay in his realm ; and whoever 
went there cast off sickness or old age and became 

After Guthmund' s death, people worshipped him 
and called him their god. His son's name was 
Hofund. He had second sight and was wise of 
understanding, and was judge of all suits throughout 
the neighbouring kingdoms. He never gave an un- 
just judgment, and no-one dared violate his decision. 

There was a man called Hergrim who was a giant 
dwelling in the rocks. He carried off from Ymisland 
Ama the daughter of Ymir, and afterwards married 
her. Their son Thorgrim Halftroll took from 


Jotunheimar Ogn Alfasprengi, and afterwards married 
her. Their son was called Grim. She had been 
betrothed to Starkath Aludreng, who had eight 
hands ; but she was carried off while he was away to 
the north of Elivagar. When he came home he 
slew Hergrim in single combat; but Ogn ran herself 
through with a sword rather than marry Starkath. 
After that Starkath carried off Alfhild the daughter 
of King Alf from Alfheimar, but he was afterwards 
slain by Thor. 

Then Alfhild went to her kinsfolk, and Grim was 
with her there till he went raiding and became a great 
warrior. He married Bauggerth the daughter of 
Starkath Aludreng and set up his dwelling on an 
island off Halogaland called Bolm. He was called 
Ey-grim Bolm. His son by Bauggerth was called 
Arngrim the Berserk, who afterwards lived in Bolm 
and was a very famous man. 

II. There was a King called Sigrlami who was 
said to be a son of Othin. His son Svafrlami suc- 
ceeded to the kingdom after his father and was a very 
great warrior. One day as the King rode a-hunting 
he got separated from his men, and at sunset he 
came upon a big stone and two dwarfs beside it. The 
King banned them with his graven sword from entering 
the stone. The dwarfs begged him to spare their lives. 

The King said: "What are your names?" 

One of them said his name was Dvalin and the 
other Dulin. 

The King said: "As you are the most cunning of 
all dwarfs you must make me a sword, the best you 
can. The hilt and the grip must be of gold, and it 
must cut iron as easily as if it were cloth and never 


rust; and it must bring victory to whoever uses it 
in battle and single combat." 

They agreed to this, and the King rode away home. 

And when the appointed day came, the King rode 
to the stone. The dwarfs were outside, and they 
handed to the King a sword which was very beautiful. 

But as Dvalin was standing in the doorway of the 
stone he said: 

"Your sword, Svafrlami, will be the death of a 
man every time it is drawn ; and moreover it will be 
the instrument of three pieces of villainy; and to you 
yourself also it shall bring death." 

Then the King struck at the dwarfs with the 
sword. But they sprang into the stone, and the 
sword came down on it sinking so deep that both 
the ridges of the blade were hidden ; for the door into 
the stone closed as they disappeared. The King called 
the sword c Tyrfing,' and ever afterwards he carried it 
in battle and single combat, and was always victorious. 

The King had a daughter who was called Eyfura, 
an exceedingly beautiful and clever girl. 

At that time Arngrim was raiding among the 
Perms in the Baltic. He raided the Kingdom of 
King Svafrlami and fought against him. They met 
face to face, and King Svafrlami struck at Arngrim 
who parried the blow with his shield; but the lower 
part of the shield was cut away and the sword plunged 
into the earth. Then Arngrim struck off the King's 
hand, so that he had to let Tyrfing fall. Arngrim 
caught up Tyrfing and cut down first the King, and 
then many others. He took great booty there, and 
carried off Eyfura, the King's daughter and took her 
to his home in Bolm. 


By her he had twelve sons. The eldest was An- 
gantyr, then Hervarth, then Hjorvarth, Sasming and 
Hrani, Brami, Barri, Reifnir, Tind and Bui, and the 
two Haddings who only did one man's work between 
them, because they were twins and the youngest of the 
family; whereas Angantyr, who was a head taller than 
other men, did the work of two. They were all ber- 
serks, and were unequalled in strength and courage. 
Even when they went marauding there were never 
more than just the twelve brothers on one ship. 
They raided far and wide in many lands, and had 
much success and won great renown. Angantyr had 
Tyrfing, and Saeming Mistletoe, Hervarth had 
Hrotti, and each of the others possessed a sword 
famous in single combat. And it was their custom, 
when they had only their own men with them, to 
land when they felt the berserks' fury coming upon 
them, and wrestle with trees or great rocks; for they 
had been known to slay their own men and disable 
their ship. Great tales were told about them and they 
became very famous. 

III. One Yule Eve at Bolm, Angantyr made a vow 
over the pledge cup, as the custom then was, that he 
would wed Ingibjorg the daughter of King Yngvi 
of Upsala the cleverest and most beautiful maiden 
in all the Northlands or perish in the attempt and 
marry no-one else. No more of their vows are recorded. 

Tyrfing had this characteristic, that whenever it 
was unsheathed it shone like a sunbeam, even in the 
dark, and could only be sheathed with human blood 
still warm upon it. Never did he whose blood was 
shed by Tyrfing live to see another day. It is very 
famous in all stories of the olden days. 


Next summer the brothers went to Upsala in 
Sweden, and when they had entered the hall, 
Angantyr told the King his vow and that he intended 
to wed his daughter. 

Everybody in the hall listened. Angantyr asked 
the King to declare what was to be the result of their 
errand, whereupon Hjalmar the stout-hearted rose 
from the table, and addressed the King: 

" Call to mind, Sire, how much honour I have won 
for you since I came into your kingdom, and how 
many times I have risked my life for you. In return 
for these my services I beg that you will give me 
your daughter in marriage. And moreover I consider 
myself more deserving a favourable answer than these 
berserks, who do harm to everyone." 

The King pondered over the matter, and found it 
difficult to decide the question in such a way as to give 
rise to as little trouble as possible; and he answered 
at last: 

" My wish is that Ingibjorg should choose for 
herself the husband she prefers." 

She replied: " If you want to marry me to anyone, 
then I would rather have a man whose good qualities 
I know already than one of whom I have only known 
by hearsay, and nothing but evil at that." 

Angantyr said: "I will not bandy words with 
you; for I can see that you love Hjalmar. But as for 
you, Hjalmar, come south to Sams0 and meet me in 
single combat. If you do not appear next mid- 
summer you will be a coward in the eyes of all 

Hjalmar said that he would not fail to come and 
fight, and the sons of Arngrim went home to their 


father and told him what had happened. He replied 
that this was the first time he had ever felt any 
anxiety on their behalf. 

They spent the winter at home, and in the spring 
made ready to start, going first to Earl Bjartmar, where 
a feast was made for them. And during the evening 
Angantyr asked the Earl for the hand of his daughter, 
and in this as in the rest they got their wish. The 
wedding took place, and afterwards the sons of 
Arngrim prepared to set out. But the night before 
they left, Angantyr had a dream which he related to 
the Earl : 

I dreamed that I and my brothers were in Sams0. 
We found many birds there and killed all that we 
saw. Then I dreamed that as we were setting out 
again upon the island, two eagles flew towards us. 
I went against one and we had a stiff encounter; and 
at last we sank down and had no strength left in us. 
But the other eagle fought with my eleven brothers 
and overcame them all." 

The Earl said: "The death of mighty men has 
been revealed to you in this dream." 

Then Angantyr and his brothers went away and 
came to Sams0, and went ashore to look for Hjalmar; 
and the story of their adventures there is related in 
the Saga of Oruar-Odd. First they came to Munar- 
vagar, where they slew all the men from the two ships 
of Hjalmar and Odd; and afterwards they went 
ashore and encountered Hjalmar and Odd them- 
selves on the island. Odd slew Angantyr' s eleven 
brothers, and Hjalmar slew Angantyr, and after- 
wards died there himself of his wounds. 

Then Odd had all the rest of them placed in great 


barrows with all their weapons; but Hjalmar's body 
he took home to Sweden. And when Ingibjorg the 
King's daughter saw Hjalmar's body, she fell down 
dead, and they were both laid together in one barrow 
at Upsala. 

IV. The story goes on to say that a girl was 
born to the daughter of Earl Bjartmar. Everyone 
advised exposing the child, saying that if she re- 
sembled her father's kinsmen she would not have a 
womanly disposition. The Earl, however, had her 
sprinkled with water; and he brought her up, and 
called her Hervor, saying that the line of Arngrim's 
sons would not be extinguished if she were left 

She grew up to be a beautiful girl. She was tall 
and strong, and trained herself in the use of bow, 
shield and sword. But as soon as she could do any- 
thing it was oftener harm than good; and when she 
had been checked she ran away to the woods and 
killed people to provide herself with money. And 
when the Earl heard of it, he had her caught and 
brought home, where she remained for a time. 

One day she went to the Earl and said : " I want 
to go away because I am not happy here." 

A little while after she departed alone, dressed 
and armed like a man, and joined some vikings and 
stayed with them for a time, calling herself Hervarth. 
Shortly afterwards the chief of the vikings died, and 
Hervarth took command of the band. 

One day when they sailed to Sams0, Hervarth 
landed; but her men would not follow her, saying 
that it was not safe for anyone to be out of doors 
there by night. Hervarth declared that there was 


likely to be much treasure in the barrows. She 
landed on the island towards sunset, but they lay 
off in Munarvagar. She met a shepherd boy and 
asked him for information. 

He said: "You are a stranger to the island; but 
come home with me, for it is unsafe for anyone to be 
out of doors here after sunset ; and I am in a hurry to 
get home." 

Hervarth replied: "Tell me where are 'Hjor- 
varth's Barrows,' as they are called." 

"You must surely be mad," replied the boy, "if 
you want to explore by night what no-one dare visit 
at mid-day. Burning flame plays over them as soon 
as the sun has set." 

But Hervarth insisted that she would visit the 
barrows whereupon the shepherd said: 

"I see that you are a brave man though not a wise 
one, so I will give you my necklace if you will come 
home with me." 

But Hervarth replied : " Even if you give me all 
you have you will not hold me back." 

And when the sun had set, loud rumblings were 
heard all over the island, and flames leapt out of the 
barrows. Then the shepherd grew frightened and 
took to his heels and ran to the wood as fast as he 
could, without once looking back. Here is a poem 
giving an account of his talk with Hervor: 

Driving his flocks at the fall of day, 
In Munarvagar along the bay, 

A shepherd met a maid. 
" Who comes to our island here alone? 
Haste to seek shelter, the day is done, 

The light will quickly fade." 


"I will not seek for a resting place: 
A stranger am I to the island race. 

But tell me quick I pray, 
Ere thou goest hence, if I may descry 
Where the tombs of the children of Arngrim lie: 

O tell me, where are they?" 

* 'Forbear from such questions utterly! 
Foolish and rash must thou surely be, 

And in a desperate plight! 

Let us haste from these horrors as fast as we can, 
For abroad it is ghastly for children of men 

To wander about in the night." 

"My necklace of gold is the price I intend 
To pay for thy guidance; for I am the friend 

Of vikings, and will not be stayed." 
* 'No treasures so costly, nor rings of red gold 
Shall take me their thrall, or my footsteps withhold, 

That thereby my flight be gainsaid. 

"Foolish is he who comes here alone 

In the fearsome dark when the sun has gone 

And the flames are mounting high; 
When earth and fen are alike ablaze, 
And tombs burst open before thy gaze: 

O faster let us hie!" 

"Let us never heed for the snorting blaze, 
Nor fear, though over the island ways 

Dart tongues of living light. 
Let us not lightly give way to fear 
Of the noble warriors buried here, 

But talk with them tonight." 

But the shepherd lad fled fast away, 

Nor stayed to hear what the youth would say, 

But into the forest sped; 
While in Hervor's breast rose proud and high 
Her hard-knit heart, as she saw near by 

The dwellings of the dead. 


She could now see the fires of the barrows and the 
ghosts standing outside; and she approached the 
barrows fearlessly and passed through the fires as if 
they had been merely smoke, until she reached the 
barrow of the berserks. Then she cried : 

V. Awaken, Angantyr, hearken to me! 
The only daughter of Tofa and thee 

Is here and bids thee awake ! 
Give me from out the barrow's shade 
The keen-edged sword which the dwarfs once made 

For Svafrlami's sake. 

Hervarth, Hjorvarth, Angantyr, 
And Hrani, under the tree-roots here, 

I bid you now appear; 
Clad in harness and coat of mail, 
With shield and broadsword of biting steel, 

Helmet and reddened spear ! 

The sons of Arngrim are changed indeed 
To heaps of dust, and Eyfura's seed 

Has crumbled into mould. 
In Munarvagar will no one speak 
To her who has come thus far to seek 

Discourse with the men of old ? 

Hervarth, Hjorvarth, Angantyr 

And Hrani, great be your torment here 

If ye will not hear my words. 
Give me the blade that Dvalin made; 
It is ill becoming the ghostly dead 

To keep such costly swords ! 

In your tortured ribs shall my curses bring 
A maddening itch and a frenzied sting, 

Till ye writhe in agonies, 
As if ye were laid to your final rest 
Where the ants are swarming within their nest, 

And revelling in your thighs! 


Then answered Angantyr: 
O Hervor, daughter, why dost thou call 
Words full of cursing upon us all ? 

Thou goest to meet thy doom ! 
Mad art thou grown, and thy wits are fled; 
Thy mind is astray, that thou wak'st the dead 

The dwellers in the tomb. 
No father buried me where I lie, 
Nor other kinsman 1 ... 
The only two who remained unslain 
Laid hold on Tyrfing, but now again 

One only possesses the sword. 

She answered : 

Nought save the truth shalt thou tell to me ! 
May the ancient gods deal ill with thee 

If thou harbour Tyrfing there! 
Thine only daughter am I, and yet 
Unwilling thou art that I should get 

That which belongs to thine heir! 

It now seemed as if the barrows, which had opened, 
were surrounded with an unbroken ring of flame. 
Then Angantyr cried: 

The barrows are opening! Before thy gaze 
The round of the island is all ablaze, 

And the gate of Hell stands wide. 
There are spectres abroad that are ghastly to see. 
Return, little maiden, right hastily 

To thy ship that waits on the tide. 

She replied : 

No funeral fire that burns by night 
Can make me tremble with affright, 

Or fear of awful doom. 
Thy daughter's heart can know no fear, 
Though a ghost before her should appear 

In the doorway of the tomb. 
1 Two lines are missing from the MS. at this point. 


Angantyr : 

Hervor, Hervor, hearken to me! 
Nought save the truth will I tell to thee 

That will surely come about ! 
Believe me, maiden, Tyrfing will be 
A curse upon all thy progeny 

Till thy race be blotted out. 

A son shalt thou bear, as I prophesy, 
Who shall fight with Tyrfing mightily, 
And trust to Tyrfing's might. 

1 tell thee Heithrek shall be his name, 
The noblest man and of greatest fame 

Of all under Heaven's light. 

Hervor : 

On all you dead this curse I cry: 
Mouldering and rotting shall ye lie 

With the spirits in the tomb! 
Out of the barrow, Angantyr, 
Give me the keen-edged Tyrfing here, 

The sword called 'Hjalmar's Doom' ! 

Angantyr : 

Surely unlike to a mortal thou 

To wander about from howe to howe, 

And stand in the doorway here ! 
In the horror of night-time, my little maid, 
Thou comest with helmet and byrnie and blade, 

And shakest thy graven spear! 

Hervor : 

A mortal maiden is she who comes, 
Arousing the corpses within their tombs, 

And will not be denied: 
Give me from out the barrow's shade 
The keen-edged sword that the dwarf-folk made, 

Which it ill becomes thee to hide! 


Angantyr : 

The sword that the death-stroke to Hjalmar gave 
Lies under my shoulders within the grave, 

And wrapped about with flame. 
But that maiden lives not in any land 
Who dare grasp the weapon within her hand 

For any hope of fame. 

Hervor : 

There lives, O Angantyr, a maid 

Who yearns to handle the keen-edged blade, 

And such a maid am I ! 

And what care I though the tomb fires blaze! 
They sink and tremble before my gaze, 

They quiver out and die! 

Angantyr : 

O Hervor, 'tis folly and madness dire 

To rush wide-eyed through the flaming fire 

With courage undismayed. 
Rather by far will I give to thee 
The accursed sword, though unwillingly, 

My little, tender maid. 

Hervor : 

O son of the vikings, well hast thou done 
In giving me Tyrfing from out the tomb; 

And happier am I today 
That I now grasp Tyrfing within my hands 
Than if I were queen of the broad Northlands, 

And conqueror of Noroway. 

Angantyr : 

Vain is thy rapture, my luckless maid ! 
Thy hopes are false. All too soon will fade 

The flush of joy from thy face. 
Try, child, to listen; I am warning thee! 
This sword is the sword of destiny, 

The destroyer of all thy race ! 




Hervor : 

Away, away to my 'ocean-steed' ! 
The daughter of princes is glad indeed, 

O glad at heart today ! 
And what care I for the destiny 
Of children as yet undreamed by me? 

Let them quarrel as they may! 

Angantyr : 

Thou shalt have and enjoy without sorrow or pain 
The blade which proved to be Hjalmar's bane, 

If thou draw it not from its sheath. 
Worse than a plague is this cursed thing. 
Touch not its edges, for poisons cling 

Above it and beneath. 

Farewell, yet fain would I give to thee 

The life that has passed from my brothers and me, 

O daughter, 'tis truth I say! 
The strength and vigour and hardihood, 
All that we had that was great and good, 

That has vanished and passed away ! 


Farewell, farewell to all you dead ! 
Farewell ! I would that I were sped ! 

Farewell all you in the mound!... 
Surely in terror I drew my breath 
Between the Worlds of Life and Death 

When the grave fires girt me round ! 

Then she returned towards her ships; but when 
dawn came, she saw that they had departed. The 
vikings had been scared by the rumblings and the 
flames on the island. She got a ship to carry her 
away ; but nothing is told of her voyage till she came 
to Guthmund in Glasisvellir, where she remained all 
through the winter, still calling herself Hervarth. 


VI. One day Guthmund was playing chess, and 
when the game was almost up, he asked if anyone 
could advise him as to his moves. So Hervarth went 
up to him and began to direct his moves ; and it was not 
long before Guthmund began to win. Then somebody 
took up Tyrfing and drew it. When Hervarth saw 
this, he snatched the sword out of his hands, and 
slew him, and then left the room. They wanted to 
rush out in pursuit, but Guthmund said : 

"Don't stir you will not be avenged on the 
man so easily as you think, for you don't know who 
he is. This woman-man will cost you dear before 
you take his life." 

After that Hervor spent a long time in piracy and 
had great success. And when she grew tired of that 
she went home to the Earl, her mother's father. 
There she behaved like other girls, working at her 
embroidery and fine needlework. 

Hofund, the son of Guthmund, heard of this and 
went and asked for the hand of Hervor, and was 
accepted; and he took her home. 

Hofund was a very wise man and so just in his 
judgments that he never swerved from giving a 
correct decision, whether the persons involved were 
natives or foreigners. And it is from him that the 
'hofund' or judge of law-suits takes his name in 
every realm. 

He and Hervor had two sons. One was called 
Angantyr, the other Heithrek. They were both big 
strong men sensible and handsome. Angantyr 
resembled his father in character and was kindly 
disposed towards everyone. Hofund loved him very 
much, as indeed did everybody. But however much 


good he did, Heithrek did still more evil. He was 
Hervor's favourite. His foster-father was called 

One day Hofund held a feast and invited all the 
chief men in his kingdom except Heithrek. This 
greatly displeased him, but he put in an appearance 
all the same, declaring that he would do them some 
mischief. And when he entered the hall, Angantyr 
rose and went to meet him and invited him to sit 
beside him. Heithrek was not cheerful, but he sat 
till late in the evening after Angantyr had gone; 
and then he turned to the men who sat on either side 
of him and worked upon them by his conversation 
in such a way that they became infuriated with each 
other. But when Angantyr came back he told them 
to be quiet. And when Angantyr went out a second 
time, Heithrek reminded them of his words, and 
worked upon them to such an extent that one of them 
struck the other. Then Angantyr returned and per- 
suaded them to keep the peace till morning. And 
the third time Angantyr went away, Heithrek asked 
the man who had been struck why he had not the 
courage to avenge himself. And so effective did his 
persuasion prove that he who had been struck sprang 
up and slew his companion. When Angantyr 
returned, he was displeased at what had taken place. 
And when Hofund heard of it, he told Heithrek that 
he must either leave his kingdom or forfeit his life. 

So Heithrek went out, and his brother with him. 
Then his mother came up and gave him Tyrfing. 
And Heithrek said to her: 

" I don't know when I shall be able to show as 
much difference in my treatment of my father and 


mother as they do in their treatment of me. My 
father proclaims me an outlaw while my mother has 
given me Tyrfing, which is of more account to me 
than a great territory. But I shall do that very thing 
that will most distress my father." 

He then drew the sword, which gleamed and 
flashed brilliantly, and then he got into a great rage 
and showed the berserk's fury coming upon him. 
The two brothers were alone. Now since Tyrfing 
had to be the death of a man every time it was drawn, 
Heithrek dealt his brother his death-blow. Hofund 
was told of it, and Heithrek escaped at once to the 
woods. Hofund had a funeral feast made for his 
son Angantyr, and he was lamented by everybody. 

Heithrek got little joy of his deed and lived in the 
woods for a long time, shooting deer and bears for 
food. And when he came to think over his position, 
he reflected that there would be but a poor tale to 
tell if no-one was to know what had become of him ; 
and it occurred to him that he could even yet become 
a man famous for deeds of prowess like his ancestors 
before him. So he went home and sought out his 
mother and begged her to ask his father to give him 
some sound advice before they parted. She went to 
Hofund and asked him to give their son sound 
advice. Hofund replied that he would give him a 
little, but added that it would turn out to his dis- 
advantage nevertheless; he said however that he 
would not ignore his request: 

" In the first place he must not aid a man who has 
slain his liege lord. Secondly, he must not protect a 
man who has slain one of his comrades. Thirdly, his 
wife ought not to be always leaving home to visit her 

io 4 THE SAGAS [PT. 

relatives. Fourthly, he ought not to stay out late 
with his sweetheart. Fifthly, he should not ride his 
best horse when he is in a hurry. Sixthly, he ought 
not to bring up the child of a man in a better position 
than himself. Seventhly, let him always be cheerful 
towards one who comes for hospitality. Eighthly, 
he should never lay Tyrfing on the ground. Yet he 
will not get any benefit from this advice." 

His mother repeated these maxims to him. 

Heithrek replied: "This advice must have been 
given me in a spiteful spirit. It will not be of any 
use to me." 

His mother gave him a mark of gold at parting, 
and bade him always bear in mind how sharp his 
sword was, and how great renown had been won by 
everyone who had borne it what great protection its 
sharp edges afforded to him who wielded it in battle 
or single combat, and what great success it always 
had. Then they parted. 

He went on his way; and when he had gone a 
short distance he came upon some men who were 
leading a man in bonds. Heithrek asked what the 
man had done, and they replied that he had betrayed 
his liege lord. He asked if they would accept money 
as his ransom, and they said that they were willing 
to do so. He ransomed the man for half his gold 

The man then offered to serve him, but Heithrek 
replied : 

"You would not be faithful to a stranger like me, 
seeing that you betrayed your liege lord to whom you 
owed many benefits." 

Shortly after he again came upon some men, of 


whom one was in bonds. He asked what this man 
had done, and they replied that he had murdered 
one of his comrades. He freed him with the other 
half of his gold mark. This man also offered to serve 
him, but Heithrek declined. 

After that he went on his way till he came to 
Reithgotaland, where he went to the King who 
ruled there. His name was Harold, and he was an 
old man at the time. Heithrek remained for a time 
with the King, who gave him a cordial welcome. 

VII. There were two Earls who had plundered 
the kingdom of King Harold and made it subject 
to them, and because he was old he paid them tribute 
every year. Heithrek grew intimate with the King, 
and eventually it came about that he became the 
commander of his army and betook himself to 
raiding, and soon made himself famous for his 
victories. He proceeded to make war on the Earls 
who had subdued King Harold's kingdom, and a 
stiff fight took place between them. Heithrek fought 
with Tyrfing and, as in the past, no-one could with- 
stand it, for it cut through steel as easily as cloth; 
and the result was that he slew both the Earls and 
put all their army to flight. He then went through- 
out the kingdom and brought it under King Harold 
and took hostages, and then returned home. And 
as a mark of great honour, King Harold went 
himself to meet him, and he acquired great fame 
from this. The King gave him his daughter Helga 
in marriage and with her half his kingdom. Heithrek 
had the defence of the whole realm in his hands; and 
this arrangement lasted for a time. 

King Harold had a son in his old age. Heithrek 


also had a son, who was called Angantyr. Presently 
a great famine began in Reithgotaland (which is 
now called Jutland) and it threatened to destroy all 
the inhabitants. So they tried divination, and the 
answer was that there would be no plenty in Reith- 
gotaland until the noblest boy in the land had been 
sacrificed. Heithrek said that that was King Harold's 
son, but the King declared that Heithrek' s son was 
the noblest; and there was no escape from this 
dilemma save by referring it to Hofund, whose 
decisions were always just. 

Thereupon Heithrek went to visit his father, who 
made him welcome. He asked his father's decision 
about this question. Hofund pronounced Heithrek's 
son to be the noblest in that land. 

"What compensation do you adjudge to me for 
my loss?" asked Heithrek. 

"You shall claim for yourself in compensation 
every second man in the retinue of King Harold. 
Beyond that there is no need to give you advice, 
considering your character and the army that you 
have under you." 

Then Heithrek went back and summoned a 
meeting, and told them his father's opinion: 

"He decided that it was my son who must be 
sacrificed; and as compensation to me he adjudged 
to me every second man of those who are with King 
Harold, and I want you to swear an oath that this 
shall be done." 

And they did so. Then the people demanded that 
he should give up his son and get them a better 
harvest. Heithrek then talked with his men after 
the force had been divided, and demanded fresh 


oaths of allegiance from them. These they gave, 
swearing to follow him whether at home or abroad, 
for whatever purpose he wished. 

Then said he: "It appears to me that Othin will 
have been well compensated for one boy if he gets 
in place of him King Harold and his son and all his 

He then bade his men raise his standard and make 
an attack on King Harold and slay him and all his 
host, declaring that he was giving this host to Othin 
instead of his own son. He caused the altars to be 
reddened with the blood of King Harold and his son 
Halfdan, while the Queen took her own life in the 
temple of the Dis. 

Heithrek was now accepted as King throughout 
the realm. He made love to Sifka the daughter 
of Humli, a prince from the land of the Huns. Their 
son was called Hloth. He was brought up with his 
mother's father. 

VIII. King Heithrek went out raiding and 
marched against the land of the Saxons with a great 
host. The King of the Saxons sent men to meet him 
and they made peace with one another, and the King 
invited Heithrek to a banquet. Heithrek accepted 
the invitation. The result of this banquet was that 
Heithrek sought the hand of the King's daughter 
and married her, receiving much property and land 
as her dowry; and with that King Heithrek went 
home to his kingdom. She often used to ask to go 
to visit her father, and Heithrek was indulgent to 
her in this matter. Her stepson Angantyr used to 
go with her. 

On one occasion when Heithrek was returning 


from a raid, he lay in hiding off the land of the 
Saxons. He landed during the night and entered the 
building in which his wife was sleeping. He had 
only one companion with him. All the sentries were 
asleep. He found a handsome man asleep beside his 
wife. He took his son Angantyr and carried him 
away with him, and returned to his ship, having 
first cut off a lock of the man's hair. 

Next morning he lay to in the King's berth, and 
all the people went to greet him; and a feast was 
prepared in his honour. A little later he had a meeting 
called and asked if anything was known of his son. 
The Queen alleged that he had died suddenly. He 
asked her to guide him to his tomb, and when she 
said that that would only increase his grief, he replied 
that he did not mind that. A search was made 
accordingly, and a dog was found wrapped in a 
shroud. Heithrek remarked that his son had not 
changed for the better. Then the King caused the 
man whom he had found asleep to be brought 
forward, and he proved to be a bondman. There- 
upon Heithrek put away his wife, and then went 
home to his kingdom. 

One summer as Heithrek was away raiding, he 
went into the land of the Huns and harried there, 
and Humli his father-in-law fled before him. Heith- 
rek there captured great booty and also Sifka, the 
daughter of King Humli, and then returned home 
to his kingdom. Their son was called Hloth, as we 
said before. He sent her home shortly after. He also 
captured another woman called Sifka from Finland. 
She was the loveliest woman ever seen. 

One summer he sent men east to Holmgarth to 


offer to bring up the child of King Hrollaug, the 
most powerful king of the time. This he did because 
he was anxious to act exactly contrary to the whole 
of his father's advice. Messengers came to Holm- 
garth and told their errand to the King, who had a 
young son called Horlaug. 

The King replied: " Is it likely that I shall send 
him my son to bring up, when he has betrayed King 
Harold his father-in-law and his other relatives and 

But the Queen urged: "Do not be so hasty in 
refusing this, for if you do not accept his offer the 
result will certainly be war. I expect it will fare with 
you as with many another, and war with him will be 
no trifle. Moreover he has a sword which nothing 
can withstand, and the man who wields it will always 
be victorious." 

So the King resolved to send his son to Heithrek; 
and Heithrek was pleased with him and brought him 
up and loved him much. 

Heithrek' s father had also counselled him not to 
tell secrets to his sweetheart. 

IX. Every summer King Heithrek went raiding; 
he always went into the Baltic where he had King 
Hrollaug' s friendly country at hand. On one oc- 
casion King Hrollaug invited him to a feast, and 
Heithrek consulted his friends as to whether he 
should accept the invitation. They all tried to 
dissuade him, bidding him bear in mind his father's 

" All his maxims will I disregard," he replied, and 
sent word to the King that he would be present at 
the feast. 


He divided his host into three parts. One he 
ordered to guard the ships, the second accompanied 
him, while the third he ordered to go on shore and 
conceal themselves in a wood near the house in which 
the feast was to be held, and to be on the look out 
in case he should need help. Heithrek went to the 
feast, and the next day, when the Kings were seated, 
Heithrek asked where the King's son, his foster- 
child, was. A search was made for him, but he could 
not be found. Heithrek was greatly distressed and 
retired to bed early; and when Sifka joined him she 
asked why he was distressed. 

" That is a difficult matter to talk about," replied 
he, " because my life is at stake if it becomes known." 

She promised to keep the secret, adding: 

" Tell me for the sake of the love that is between 

So Heithrek began: 

"As I was riding to the forest yesterday looking 
for sport, I caught sight of a wild boar and made a 
thrust at him with my spear; but I missed my aim 
and the shaft snapped. Then I leapt down from my 
horse and drew Tyrfing, which was effective as 
usual, and I slew the boar. But when I looked round 
there was no-one by except the King's son. But it is 
a peculiarity of Tyrfing that it must be sheathed with 
human blood still warm upon it, so I slew the lad. 
Now this will be the end of me if King Hrollaug 
hears of it, because we have only a small force 

Next morning when Sifka came to the Queen, the 
Queen asked her why Heithrek had been depressed. 
She said that she did not dare to tell. But the Queen 


persuaded her to change her mind, so she told the 
Queen all that Heithrek had told her. 

"These are terrible tidings," cried the Queen, 
and went off in deep grief and told the King; but she 
added : 

" Yet Heithrek has done this against his will." 

" Your advice has turned out as I expected," said 
the King as he left the hall to give orders to his men 
to arm. 

Heithrek had a shrewd notion as to what Sifka 
had said, and ordered his men to arm themselves 
secretly, and then to go out in small detachments and 
try to find out what was happening. 

A little later King Hrollaug came in and asked 
Heithrek to come and have a private talk with him. 
And when they entered a garden, some men sprang 
at Heithrek and seized him and cast him into fetters 
and bound him securely; and he recognised the two 
men who bound him most tightly as the men whose 
lives he had saved. The King ordered him to be taken 
to the forest and hanged. There were two hundred 
and forty of them all told, and when they entered the 
forest, King Heithrek' s men sprang out at them with 
his weapons and standard and a trumpet which they 
blew as they attacked their foes. Their companions 
concealed in the woods heard the noise and came out 
to meet King Heithrek' s men. And when the natives 
saw that, they all took to their heels; but most of 
them were slain. The Goths took their King and 
released him. Heithrek went to his ships after that, 
taking with him the King's son whom he had left 
with the men concealed in the wood. 

King Hrollaug now summoned a very large force, 


and King Heithrek raided in his kingdom wherever 
he went. 

Then said King Hrollaug to the Queen : 

" Your advice has turned out badly for me. I find 
that our son is with Heithrek, and in his present state 
of anger he will think nothing of making an end of 
him in his criminal way, just as he slew his own 
innocent brother." 

"We have been far too easily convinced," replied 
the Queen. "You saw how popular he was, when 
no-one would fetter him except two bad men; and 
our son is taken good care of. This has been a trick 
of his to make trial of you, and you offered him a poor 
return for bringing up your child. Send men to him 
now, and offer to make it up with him, and to give 
him so much of your territories as you may agree 
upon with him ; and offer him your daughter too, if 
we can recover our son. That will be better than that 
you should part from him in enmity. And even if 
he already has wide territory, he has not a wife as 
beautiful as she." 

"I had not intended to offer her to anyone," 
replied the King; "but as you are so wise, you shall 

Messengers were sent accordingly to King 
Heithrek to bring about a reconciliation. A council 
was held and a reconciliation effected by Heithrek' s 
marrying Hergerth, the daughter of King Hrollaug; 
and she brought him as her dowry Wendland, the 
province which lies nearest to Reithgotaland. 

On one occasion the King was riding his best horse 
as he was conducting Sifka home. It was late in the 
evening, and when the King came to a river his horse 


fell dead. Shortly afterwards, when Sifka attempted 
to embrace him, he threw her down and broke her 
leg. Afterwards King Heithrek settled down in his 
own kingdom and became a great sage. 

X. They had a daughter called Hervor who was 
brought up by a man called Ormar. She was a most 
beautiful girl, but as tall and strong as a man, and 
trained herself in the use of bow and arrows. 

There was a great man in Reithgotaland called 
Gestumblindi, who was not on good terms with 
King Heithrek. 

In the King's retinue there were seven men whose 
duty it was to decide all the disputes that arose in 
that country. 

King Heithrek worshipped Frey, and he used to 
give Frey the biggest boar he could find. They re- 
garded it as so sacred that in all important cases they 
used to take the oath on its bristles. It was the custom 
to sacrifice this boar at the 'sacrifice of the herd.' 
On Yule Eve the 'boar of the herd' was led into 
the hall before the King. Then men laid their hands 
on his bristles and made solemn vows. King Heith- 
rek himself made a vow that however deeply a man 
should have wronged him, if he came into his power 
he should not be deprived of the chance of receiving 
a trial by the King's judges; but he should get 
off scot free if he could propound riddles which the 
King could not answer. But when people tried to 
ask the King riddles, not one was put to him which 
he could not solve. 

The King sent a message to Gestumblindi bidding 
him come to him on an appointed day; otherwise the 
King said that he would send to fetch him. Neither 


alternative pleased Gestumblindi, because he knew 
himself to be no match for the King in a contest of 
words ; neither did he think he had much to hope from 
a trial before the judges, for his offences were many. 
On the other hand, he knew that if the King had to 
send men to bring him it would cost him his life. 
Then he proceeded to sacrifice to Othin and to ask 
his help, promising him great offerings. 

One evening a stranger visited Gestumblindi, and 
said that he also was called Gestumblindi. They 
were so much alike that neither could be distinguished 
from the other. They exchanged clothes, and the 
landowner went into hiding, and everyone thought 
the stranger was the landowner himself. 

This man went to visit the King and greeted him. 
The King looked at him and was silent. 

Gestumblindi said: " I am come, Sire, to make my 
peace with you." 

"Will you stand trial by the judges?" asked the 

"Are there no other means of escape?" asked 

"If," replied the King, "you can ask me riddles 
which I cannot answer, you shall go free." 

" I am not likely to be able to do that," replied 
Gestumblindi; "yet the alternative is severe." 

"Do you prefer the trial?" asked the King. 

" Nay," said he, " I would rather ask riddles." 

"That is quite in order," said the King, "and 
much depends on the issue. If you can get the better 
of me you shall marry my daughter and none shall 
gainsay you. Yet I don't imagine you are very 
clever, and it has never yet happened that I have 


been unable to solve the riddles that have been put 
to me." 

Then a chair was placed for Gestumblindi, and 
the people began to listen eagerly to the words of 

Gestumblindi began as follows: 

XI. I would that I had that which I had yesterday. Guess 

King, what that was: Exhauster of men, retarder of 
words, yet originator of speech. King Heithrek, read me this 

Heithrek replied : 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
Give him some ale. That is what confounds many people's 
reason. Some are made garrulous by it, but some become 
confused in their speech. 

Gestumblindi said: 

I went from home, I made my way from home, I looked 
upon a road of roads. A road was beneath me, a road above 
and a road on every side. King Heithrek, read me this 

Heithrek replied : 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
You went over a bridge, and the course of the river was 
beneath it, and birds were flying over your head and on either 
side of you; that was their road; you saw a salmon in the 
river, and that was his road. 

Gestumblindi said: 

What was the drink that I had yesterday? It was neither 
wine nor water, mead nor ale, nor any kind of food; and yet 

1 went away with my thirst quenched. King Heithrek, read 
me this riddle! 



Heithrek replied : 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
You lay in the shade and cooled your lips in dew. But if you 
are the Gestumblindi I took you for, you are a more 
intelligent man than I expected ; for I had heard that your 
conversation showed no brains, yet now you are setting to work 

Gestumblindi said: 

I expect that I shall soon come to grief; yet I should like 
you to listen a while longer. 

Then he continued: 

Who is that clanging one who traverses hard paths which 
he has trod before? He kisses very rapidly, has two mouths 
and walks on gold alone. King Heithrek, read me this riddle! 

Heithrek replied : 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
That is the goldsmith's hammer, with which gold is forged. 

Gestumblindi said: 

What is that huge one that passes over the earth, swallowing 
lakes and pools ? He fears the wind, but he fears not man, and 
carries on hostilities against the sun. King Heithrek, read me 
this riddle! 

Heithrek replied: 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
That is fog. One cannot see the sea because of it. Yet as soon 
as the wind blows, the fog lifts; but men can do nothing to it. 
Fog kills the sunshine. You have a cunning way of asking 
riddles and conundrums, whoever you are. 

Gestumblindi said: 

What is that huge one that controls many things and of 
which half faces towards Hell? It saves people's lives and 
grapples with the earth, if it has a trusty friend. King 
Heithrek, read me this riddle! 


Heithrek replied: 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
That is an anchor with its thick strong cable. It controls 
many a ship, and grips the earth with one of its flukes which 
is pointing towards Hell. It is a means of safety to many 
people. Greatly do I marvel at your readiness of speech and 

Gestumblindi said: 

Ah, but I am now almost at the end of my riddles; yet 
everyone is eager to save his life. What lives in high 
mountains? What falls in deep valleys? What lives without 
breathing? What is never silent? King Heithrek, read me 
this riddle! 

Heithrek replied: 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
A raven always lives in high mountains, and dew falls in 
deep valleys, a fish lives without breathing, and the booming 
waterfall is never silent. 

Things are now becoming serious, said Gestumblindi, and 
I do not know what is going to happen. What is the marvel 
which I have seen outside Delling's doorway? It points its 
head towards Hell and turns its feet to the sun. King Heithrek, 
read me this riddle! 

Heithrek replied : 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
That is a leek. Its head grows down into the ground, and its 
blades upward into the air. 

Gestumblindi said: 

What is the marvel which I have seen outside Delling's 
doorway? Two restless, lifeless things boiling a wound- 
leek. King Heithrek, read me this riddle! 

Heithrek replied: 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
That is the smith's bellows which have breath, yet not life. 


Gestumblindi said: 

What is the marvel which I have seen outside Delling's 
doorway? White fliers smiting the rock, and black fliers 
burying themselves in sand! King Heithrek, read me this 
riddle ! 

Heithrek replied: 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
But now your riddles are growing trivial. That is hail and 
rain; for hail beats upon the street; whereas rain-drops fall 
into the sand and sink into the earth. 

Gestumblindi said: 

What is the marvel which I have seen outside Delling's 
doorway? I saw a black hog wallowing in mud, yet no 
bristles were standing up on his back. King Heithrek, read 
me this riddle! 

Heithrek replied : 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
That is a dung-beetle. But we have talked too long when 
dung-beetles come to exercise the wits of great men. 

Gestumblindi said: 

"It is best to put off misfortune"; and though there are 
some who overlook this truth, many will want to go on trying. 
I myself too see now that I shall have to look out for every 
possible way of escape. What is the marvel that I have seen 
outside Delling's doorway? This creature has ten tongues, 
twenty eyes, forty feet, and walks with difficulty. King 
Heithrek, read me this riddle! 

Heithrek replied : 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
That was a sow with nine little pigs. 

Then the King had the sow killed and they found 
they had killed with her nine little pigs, as Gestum- 
blindi had said. 


Then the King said : 

I am beginning to suspect that I have to deal with a 
cleverer man than myself in this business; but I don't know 
who you can be. 

Gestumblindi said: 

I am such as you can see; and I am very anxious to save 
my life and be quit of this task. 

You must go on asking riddles, replied the King, till you 
have exhausted your stock, or else till I fail to solve them. 

Gestumblindi said: 

What is the marvel which I have seen outside Delling's 
doorway? It flies high, with a whistling sound like the 
whirring of an eagle. Hard it is to clutch, O King. King 
Heithrek, read me this riddle! 

Heithrek replied : 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
That is an arrow, said the King. 

Gestumblindi said: 

What is the marvel which I have seen outside Delling's 
doorway? It has eight feet and four eyes, and carries its knees 
higher than its body. King Heithrek, read me this riddle! 

Heithrek replied: 

I notice firstly that you have a long hood; and secondly 
that you look downwards more than most people, since you 
observe every creature of the earth. That is a spider. 

Gestumblindi said: 

What is the marvel which I have seen outside Delling's 
doorway? It shines upon men in every land; and yet wolves 
are always struggling for it. King Heithrek, read me this 


Heithrek replied : 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
It is the sun. It gives light to every land and shines down on 
all men. But the wolves are called Skalli and Hatti. Those 
are the wolves who accompany the sun, one in front and one 

Gestumblindi said: 

What is the marvel which I have seen outside Delling's 
doorway? It was harder than horn, blacker than the raven, 
whiter than the membrane of an egg, straighter than a shaft. 
King Heithrek, read me this riddle! 

Heithrek replied: 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
You saw an agate, and a sunbeam penetrated the house and 
shone upon it. But since you seem to be a learned man, can 
you not propound your riddles without always beginning 
them in the same way? 

Then said Gestumblindi: 

Two bond-women, fair-haired brides, were carrying ale 
to the store-room. The cask was not turned by hands, nor 
clinched by hammers; and he who made it strutted about 
outside the islands. King Heithrek, read me this riddle! 

Heithrek replied : 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
These are eider duck laying their eggs. The eggs are not 
made with hammer or hands, and the hand-maidens put the 
ale into the egg-shell. 

Gestumblindi said: 

He who has got but a little sword and is very short of 
learning has to look out for help. I would like to talk still 
further. Who are those ladies of the lofty mountain? A 
woman begets by a woman; a maid has a son by a maid; and 
these good-wives have no husbands. King Heithrek, read me 
this riddle! 


Heithrek replied: 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed 
it. They are two Angelicas joined together, and a young 
angelica shoot is growing between them. 

Gestumblindi said: 

Who are the girls who fight without weapons around their 
lord? The dark red ones always protect him, and the fair ones 
seek to destroy him. King Heithrek, read me this riddle! 

Heithrek replied: 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
That is a game of chess. The pieces smite one another without 
weapons around the king* and the red assist him. 

Gestumblindi said: 

Who are the merry-maids who glide over the land for their 
father's pleasure? They bear a white shield in winter and a 
black one in summer. King Heithrek, read me this riddle! 

Heithrek replied: 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
Those are ptarmigan. 

Gestumblindi said: 

Who are the damsels who go sorrowing for their father's 
pleasure? These white-hooded ladies have shining hair, and 
are very wide awake in a gale. King Heithrek, read me this 

Heithrek replied : 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
Those are the billows, which are called .^Egir's maidens. 

Gestumblindi said: 

Who are the maidens who go about many together for 
their father's pleasure? They have brought trouble to many; 
and these good-wives have no husbands. King Heithrek, read 
me this riddle! 


Heithrek replied : 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
Those are billows like the last. 

Gestumblindi said: 

Who are the brides who go about the reefs and trail along 
the firths? These white-hooded ladies have a hard bed and 
do not play much when the weather is calm. King Heithrek, 
read me this riddle. 

Heithrek replied : 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
Those again are ^Egir's maidens; but your pleading has now 
become so weak that you will have to stand trial by the 

Gestumblindi said: 

I am loath to do so; and yet I fear that it will very soon 
come to that. I saw a barrow-dweller pass by, a corpse sitting 
on a corpse, the blind riding on the blind towards the ocean- 
path. Lifeless was the steed. King Heithrek, read me this 

Heithrek replied : 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
It is that you came to a river; and an ice-floe was floating 
along the stream, and on it a dead horse Was lying, and on the 
horse was a dead snake; and thus the blind was carrying the 
blind when they were all three together. 

Gestumblindi said: 

What is that beast which slays people's flocks and is girt 
around with iron? It has eight horns, yet no head, and it 
runs when it can. King Heithrek, read me this riddle! 

Heithrek replied: 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
That is the Hunn in chess. It has the same name as a bear. 
It runs as soon as it is thrown. 


Gestumblindi said: 

What is that beast which protects the Danes? Its back is 
bloody, but it shields men, encounters spears and saves men's 
lives. Man fits his hand to its body. King Heithrek, read me 
this riddle ! 

Heithrek replied : 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
That is a shield. It protects many people and often has a 
bloody back. 

Gestumblindi said: 

A 'nose-goose' (i.e. duck) in former days had grown very 
big when eager for young. She gathered together her building 
timber: * biters of straw' sheltered her, and 'drink's echoing 
cavern' was above her. King Heithrek, read me this riddle! 

Heithrek replied : 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
There a duck was sitting on her eggs between the jaws of an 
ox, which you call 'biters of straw.' The 'echoing cavern' 
is the skull, and the 'building timber,' the nest. 

Gestumblindi said: 

Four walking, four hanging, two pointing the way, two 
warding off the dogs, one, generally dirty, dangling behind! 
King Heithrek, read me this riddle! 

Heithrek replied : 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
That is a cow. She has four feet and four udders, two horns 
and two eyes, and the tail dangles behind. 

Gestumblindi said: 

Who is that solitary one who sleeps in the grey ash, and is 
made from stone only? This greedy one has neither father 
nor mother. There will he spend his life. King Heithrek, 
read me this riddle. 

i2 4 THE SAGAS [PT. 

Heithrek replied: 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
That is a spark struck by a flint and hidden in the hearth. 

Gestumblindi said: 

I saw a horse standing... 

Then the King said: 

My retinue shall read this riddle. 

They made many guesses, but not particularly 
good ones. And when the King saw that they could 
do nothing he said: 

What you call a 'horse' is a piece of linen, and his 
'mare* is the weaver's rod; and the linen is shaken up and 

Gestumblindi said: 

Who are the thanes who ride to the meeting, sixteen of 
them together? They send their men far and wide to make 
homes of their own. King Heithrek, read me this riddle! 

Heithrek replied: 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
That is 'King Itrek's game.' 

Gestumblindi said: 

In summer time at sunset I saw the King's body-guard 
awake and very joyful. The nobles were drinking their ale in 
silence, but the ale-butts stood screaming. King Heithrek, 
read me this riddle! 

Heithrek replied: 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
That is a sow with her litter. When the little pigs are 
feeding, she squeals and they are silent. But I can't imagine 
who you are who can compose such things so deftly out of 
such unpromising materials ! 


The King then silently made a sign that the door 
of the hall was to be closed. 

Gestumblindi said: 

I saw maidens like dust. Rocks were their beds. They 
were black and swarthy in the sunshine, but the darker it 
grew, the fairer they appeared. King Heithrek, read me this 

Heithrek replied: 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
They are pale embers on the hearth. 

Gestumblindi said: 

I sat on a sail, and saw dead men carrying a channel of 
blood in the bark of a tree. King Heithrek, read me this 

Heithrek replied : 

Your riddle is a good one, Gestumblindi. I have guessed it. 
You sat on a wall, and watched a hawk flying and carrying 
an eider duck in its claws. 

Gestumblindi said: 

Who are those two who have ten feet, three eyes and one 
tail? King Heithrek, read me this riddle! 

Heithrek replied: 

You are hard up when you have to turn back to things of 
long ago to bring forward against me. That is Othin riding 
his horse Sleipnir. It had eight feet and Othin two, and they 
had three eyes Sleipnir two and Othin one. 

Gestumblindi said: 

Tell me lastly, Heithrek, if you are wiser than any other 
prince, what did Othin whisper in Balder's ear, before he 
was placed upon the pyre ? 


The King replied: 

I am sure it was something scandalous and cowardly and 
thoroughly contemptible. You are the only person who knows 
the words which you spoke, you evil and wretched creature. 

Then the King drew Tyrfing, and struck at 
Gestumblindi; but he changed himself into a falcon 
and flew out through the window of the hall. And 
the sword struck the tail of the falcon ; and that is 
why it has had a short tail ever since, according to 
heathen superstition. But Othin had now become 
wroth with the King for striking at him; and that 
night he was slain. 

XII. It is said that King Heithrek had some slaves, 
nine in all, whom he had taken in a freebooting 
expedition in the West. They came of noble families, 
and chafed against their captivity. One night, when 
King Heithrek lay in bed, attended by only a handful 
of men, the slaves armed themselves and went to the 
building in which he lay. They first slew the sentries, 
and then went and broke into the King's chamber, 
and slew the King and all who were within. They took 
the sword Tyrfing, and all the treasure that they 
found there, and carried everything off with them. 

For a while, no one knew who had done the deed 
or how vengeance was to be taken. Then Angantyr 
the son of King Heithrek had a meeting called, and 
by that assembly he was proclaimed King over all 
the territories that King Heithrek had held. And 
at the same meeting he swore a solemn oath that he 
would never sit on his father's throne until he had 
avenged him. 

Shortly after the meeting, Angantyr went away by 
himself and travelled far and wide searching for 


these men. One evening he was walking down to the 
sea along a river called Graf. There he saw three men 
in a fishing-boat, and presently he saw one of the 
men catch a fish, and heard him call to one of his 
companions to hand him a bait-knife to cut off the 
fish's head. The man replied that he could not spare 
it. Then the first man said : 

"Take down the sword from over there by the 
rudder, and hand it to me." 

And he took it and unsheathed it, and cut off the 
fish's head, and then spoke a verse: 

This pike at the mouth of the river 

Has paid the penalty 
For the slaughter inflicted on Heithrek, 

'Neath the Mountains of Harvathi. 

Angantyr immediately perceived that it was 
Tyrfing, and went off at once to the wood and waited 
there till it was dark. And the fishermen rowed to 
the land, and went to a tent which they had, and lay 
down and went to sleep. And when it was close on 
midnight, Angantyr went up to them and pulled 
down the tent on top of the slaves and slew all nine 
of them, and carried off the sword Tyrfing as a sign 
that he had avenged his father. He then went home 
and had a great funeral feast held to his father's 
memory on the banks of the Dnieper, at a place called 
Arheimar. The kings who ruled at that time were as 
follows: Humli ruled the Huns, Gizur the Gautar, 
Angantyr the Goths, Valdar the Danes, Kjar the 
Gauls ; Alrek the Bold ruled the English people. 

Hloth the son of King Heithrek was brought up 
at the court of King Humli, his grandfather. He 
was a very handsome and valiant man. There was an 


old saying at that time that a man was "born with 
weapons or horses." And the explanation is that it 
referred to the weapons which were being forged at 
the time when the man was born ; also to any sheep, 
beasts, oxen and horses that were born about the 
same time. These were all given to high-born men 
as an honour to them, as is here related about Hloth 
the son of Heithrek : 

In the land of the Huns was Hloth born 

In a holy forest glade, 
With ring-bedizened helmet, 

With dagger and keen-edged blade, 
With byrnie and with broadsword, 

And noble prancing steed. 

Then Hloth learnt of the death of his father, and 
also that his brother Angantyr had been made King 
over all the territory which their father had held. 
Then King Humli and Hloth resolved that Hloth 
should go and request his brother Angantyr to allow 
him a share of his father's property, and that he 
should try first by fair words as is said here : 

Hloth, the heir of Heithrek, 

Came riding from the East, 
To where Angantyr was holding 

King Heithrek's funeral feast. 
He came to his court in Arheimar 

Where the Gothic people dwell, 
Demanding his share of the heritage left 

By the King when he journeyed to Hell. 

Hloth now arrived in Arheimar with a great host 
as it says here: 

He found a warrior hastening 
Towards the lofty hall; 


And unto this late traveller 

Did Hloth his greeting call : 
O man, make haste to enter 
This hall that .towers so high! 
Bid Angantyr speed, 
For great is the need 
We hold a colloquy. 

The men entered and went up to Angantyr' s table 
and saluted the King, saying: 

Hloth, thy warlike brother, 

King fieithrek's valiant heir, 
Has sent me hither to thee, 

And bidden me declare 
That he wishes to hold converse; 

And though he be young indeed, 
Yet he looks a mighty champion, 

Seated high upon his steed. 

And when the King heard that, he flung down his 
knife upon the table and arose from the feast; and 
he put on his corslet and took a white shield in one 
hand and the sword Tyrfing in the other. Then a 
great din arose in the hall, as is said in the poem : 

Then a murmur arose from the warriors, 

And all in the hall drew near, 
As the warder reported the message of Hloth : 

Everyone lent an ear; 
And the men all awaited with quivering breath 

The message of Angantyr. 

Then Angantyr said: "Hail, brother! You are 
welcome! Come in and drink with us, and let us 
first drink mead in memory of our father, to the 
honour and glory of us all with full ceremony." 

Hloth said: "We are come hither for a different 
purpose than to fill our stomachs," 


Then Hloth cried: 

Of all the possessions of Heithrek 

The half do I now demand; 
His spear and blade and treasures, 

His cattle and his land, 
His handmaids and his bondmen, 

And the children to them born, 
And the murmuring mill that the bondwomen turn 

As they wearily grind the corn. 

And half of the far-famed Myrkvith, 

And half of the holy grave 
Far off mid the Gothic peoples, 

These also will I have. 
Half of the noble pillar 

That stands on Danaper's shore; 
And of Heithrek's castles, land and folk, 

And half of his golden store ! 

Cried Angantyr: 

The white-shining shield shall be cloven, brother, 

And spear on spear shall ring; 
And many a helmet be lowered, brother, 

In battle for this thing, 
Ere I give thee half my heritage, 

Or half of the sword Tyrfing. 

But Angantyr added : 

I will offer thee wealth in plenty, 

And all thy heart's desire 
In store of costly treasure, 

And rings of golden fire; 
Twelve hundred squires will I give thee, 
Twelve hundred prancing steeds; 
Twelve hundred men 
To attend on them 
And arm them for mighty deeds. 


And every man whom I give thee 

Shall receive a richer store 
Of rings and costly treasures 

Than ever he had before. 
To every man a maiden ! 

To every maid a ring! 
I will clasp a necklace round her throat, 

A necklace fit for a king ! 

I will case thee all in silver 

As thou sittest on thy throne; 
And a third of the Gothic peoples 

Shall be thine to rule alone; 
With gold shalt thou be covered 
As thou farest through the land. 
Thou shalt dazzle the sight 
As thou walk'st in the light 
Like the flame of a fiery brand. 

XIII. Gizur, a liegeman from the Grytingar, 
King Heithrek's foster-father, was with King 
Angantyr. He was a very old man at that time. And 
when he heard King Angantyr' s suggestion, he 
thought that he was offering too much and said : 

King Angantyr is generous, 

And royal his offering! 
For thy mother was merely a bondmaid 

Though thou hadst for thy father a King. 
And though thou art only an outcast, 

Yet a seat of honour was thine, 
When the Prince was dividing his treasure and land, 

And his portion to each did assign. 

Hloth grew very angry at being called an out- 
cast and the child of a bondwoman, if he accepted 
his brother's offer; so he departed at once with all 
his men and returned home to King Humli, his 
mother's father, in the land of the Huns. And he 



told Humli that Angantyr his brother had not 
granted him an equal share. King Humli enquired 
as to all that had passed between them, and was very 
angry that Hloth, the son of his daughter, should be 
called the son of a bondmaid, and he cried: 

We will stay in our homes for the winter, 

And as princes are wont when they dine, 
We will hold high converse together, 

Quaffing the costly wine. 
We will call on the Hunnish people 

To arm them with spear and with shield. 
They shall march to the fight 
Right royally dight, 
And conquer their foes in the field. 

Then he added : 

We will summon a mighty host, Hloth, 

And shield on shield will clang, 
As the warriors arm them from twelve years old, 
And the wild colts gallop along. 
And the Huns shall mass 
Ere the winter pass, 
And assemble a countless throng. 

That winter, King Humli and Hloth remained 
quiet, but the following spring they collected such 
a large army that the land of the Huns was swept 
bare of fighting men. All those of twelve years old 
and upwards, who were fit for military service and 
could carry arms, joined the army, and all the horses 
of two years old and upwards. The host was now so 
big that thousands and nothing less than thousands 
could be counted in the legions. And a commander 
was set over every ' thousand,' and a standard was set 
up over every legion. And there were five 'thousand ' 
in each legion, each 'thousand' containing thirteen 


' hundreds,' and each hundred ' four times forty men; 
and these legions were thirty three in number. 

When these troops had assembled, they rode 
through the forest which was called Myrkvith, and 
which separated the land of the Huns from that of 
the Goths. And when they emerged from the forest, 
they came upon a thickly inhabited country with 
level fields; and on these plains there was a fine 
fortress. It was under the command of Hervor, the 
sister of Angantyr and Hloth, and Ormar, her foster- 
father was with her. They had been appointed to 
defend the land against the Hunnish host, and they 
had a large army there. 

XIV. It happened one morning at sunrise that as 
Hervor was standing on the summit of a tower over 
the gate of the fortress, she looked southwards to- 
wards the forest, and saw clouds of dust arising from 
a great body of horse, by which the sun was hidden 
for a long time. Next she saw a gleam beneath the 
dust, as though she were gazing on a mass of gold 
fair shields overlaid with gold, gilded helmets and 
white corslets. Then she perceived that it was the 
Hunnish host coming on in vast numbers. She 
descended hastily and called her trumpeter, and bade 
him sound the assembly. 

Then said Hervor: "Take your weapons and arm 
for battle; and do thou, Ormar, ride against the 
Huns and offer them battle before the Southern 

Ormar replied : " I will certainly take my shield 
and ride with the companies of the Goths. I will 
challenge the Huns and offer them battle before the 
Southern Gate." 


Then Ormar rode out of the fortress against the 
Huns. He called loudly bidding them ride up to the 
fort, saying: 

"Outside the gate of the fortress, in the plains to 
the south there will I offer you battle. Let those 
who arrive first await their foes!" 

Then Ormar rode back to the fortress, and found 
Hervor and all her host armed and ready. They rode 
forthwith out of the fort with all their host against 
the Huns, and a great battle began between them. 
But the Hunnish host was far superior in numbers, 
so that Hervor' s troops began to suffer heavy losses; 
and in the end Hervor fell, and a great part of her 
army round about her. And when Ormar saw her 
fall, he fled with all those who still survived. Ormar 
rode day and night as fast as he could to King 
Angantyr in Arheimar. The Huns then proceeded 
to ravage and burn throughout the land. 

And when Ormar came into the presence of King 
Angantyr, he cried: 

From the south have I journeyed hither 

To bear these tidings to thee: 
The whole of the forest of Myrkvith 

Is burnt up utterly; 
And the land of the Goths is drenched with blood 

As our warriors fall and die. 

Then he continued : 

All of thy noblest warriors 

On the field are lying dead. 
King Heithrek's daughter fell by the sword; 

She drooped and bowed her head. 
Thy sister Hervor is now no more. 

By the Huns was her life-blood shed. 


O prouder and lighter the maiden's step 

As she wielded spear and sword 
Than if she were sped to her trysting place, 

Or her seat at the bridal-board ! 

When King Angantyr heard that, he drew back 
his lips, and it was some time before he spoke. Then 
he said : 

"In no brotherly wise hast thou been treated, my 
noble sister!" 

Then he surveyed his retinue, and his band of 
men was but small; then he cried: 

The Gothic warriors were many, 

As they sat and drank the mead; 
But now when many are called for, 

The array is poor indeed ! 
Not a man in the host will adventure 
Though I offer a rich reward 
To take his shield, 
And ride to the field, 
To seek out the Hunnish horde. 

Then Gizur the Old cried: 

I will crave no single farthing, 
Nor ringing coin of gold; 
I will take my shield 
And ride to the field 
To the Huns with their myriads untold. 
And the message of war that you send to the host 
Will I carry, and there unfold. 

It was a rule with King Heithrek that if his 
army was invading a land, and the King of that 
land had set up hazel stakes to mark the spot on 
which the battle was to take place, then the vikings 
should not go raiding till the battle had been fought. 


Gizur armed himself with good weapons and 
leapt on his horse as if he had been a young man. Then 
he cried to the King: 

"Where shall I challenge the host of the Huns to 

King Angantyr replied: "Challenge them to 
battle at Dylgia and on Dunheith, and upon all 
the heights of Josur, where the Goths have often 
won renown by glorious victories!" 

Then Gizur rode away until he came to the host 
of the Huns. He rode just within earshot, and then 
called loudly, crying: 

Your host is panic stricken, 

And your prince is doomed to fall; 
Though your banners are waving high in the air, 

Yet Othin is wroth with you all. 
Come forth to the Josur Mountains, 
On Dylgia and Dunheith come fight; 
For I make a sure boast, 
In the heart of your host 
The javelin of Othin will light! 

When Hloth heard Gizur' s words, he cried: 

"Lay hold upon Gizur of the Grytingar, Angan- 
tyr' s man, who has come from Arheimar!" 

King Humli said: "We must not injure heralds 
who travel about unattended." 

Gizur cried: "You Hunnish dogs are not going 
to overcome us with guile." 

Then Gizur struck spurs into his horse and rode 
back to King Angantyr, and went up to him and 
saluted him. The King asked him if he had parleyed 
with the Huns. 

Gizur replied: "I spoke with them and I chal- 


lenged them to meet us on the battle-field of Dun- 
heith and in the valleys of Dylgia." 

Angantyr asked how big the army of the Huns was. 

"Their host is very numerous," replied Gizur. 
"There are six legions in all, and five 'thousands' in 
every legion, and each 'thousand' contains thirteen 
'hundreds,' and in every 'hundred' there are a 
hundred and sixty men." 

Angantyr asked further questions about the host 
of the Huns. 

He then sent men in all directions to summon every 
man who was willing to support him and could bear 
weapons. He then marched to Dunheith with his 
army, and it was a very great host. There the host 
of the Huns came against him with an army half as 
big again as his own. 

XV. Next day they began their battle, and they 
fought together the whole day, and at evening they 
went to their quarters. They continued fighting for 
eight days, but the princes were then still all un- 
wounded, though none could count the number of 
the slain. But both day and night troops came 
thronging round Angantyr' s banner from all quar- 
ters ; and so it came about that his army never grew 

The battle now became fiercer than ever. The 
Huns were desperate, for they now saw that their 
only chance of escaping annihilation lay in victory, 
and that sorry would be their lot if they had to ask 
for quarter from the Goths. The Goths on the other 
hand were defending their freedom and their native 
land against the Huns; so they stood fast and en- 
couraged one another to fight on. Then towards the 


close of the day the Goths made so fierce an attack 
that the line of the Huns recoiled before it. And when 
Angantyr saw that, he pressed forward from behind 
the rampart of shields into the forefront of the battle, 
and grasping Tyrfing in his hand, mowed down both 
men and horses. Then the ranks fell apart in front 
of the Kings of the Huns, and Hloth exchanged 
blows with his brother. There fell Hloth and King 
Humli, and then the Huns took to flight. The Goths 
cut them down and made such a great slaughter that 
the rivers were dammed with the bodies and diverted 
from their courses, and the valleys were full of dead 
men and horses. Angantyr then went to search 
among the slain, and found his brother Hloth. Then 
he cried: 

I offered thee wealth unstinted, brother, 

And treasures manifold, 
Riches of cattle and land, brother, 

Riches of glittering gold; 
But now thou hast wagered and lost in the battle 

Thy desires and glories untold. 

A curse has fallen upon us, brother, 

I have dealt destruction to thee; 
And ne'er shall the deed be forgotten, brother; 

Full ill is the norns 5 decree ! 

XVI. Angantyr ruled Reithgotaland as King for 
a long time. He was powerful and generous and 
a great warrior, and lines of kings are sprung from 

He had a son called Heithrek Wolfskin who ruled 
after him for a long time in Reithgotaland. Heithrek 
had a daughter called Hild, who was the mother of 
Halfdan the Valiant, the father of Ivar Vithfathmi. 


Ivar Vithfathmi went with his army into the Swedish 
kingdom, as is told in the Sagas of the Kings. And 
King Ingjald the Wicked was panic-stricken at the 
approach of his army, and burned the roof over him- 
self and all his retinue at a place called Raening. Ivar 
Vithfathmi then conquered all Sweden. He also sub- 
dued Denmark and Courland and the land of the 
Saxons and Esthonia, and all the eastern realms as 
far as Russia. He also ruled the land of the Saxons 
in the West and conquered the part of England 
which was called Northumbria. 

Then he conquered all Denmark and set over it 
King Valdar, to whom he married his daughter 
Alfhild. Their sons were Harold Hilditonn and 
Randver who afterwards fell in England. And when 
Valdar died in Denmark, Randver got possession of 
the Danish kingdom and made himself King over it. 
And King Harold Hilditonn got himself proclaimed 
King of Gautland, and he afterwards conquered all 
the kingdoms already mentioned, which King Ivar 
Vithfathmi had held. 

King Randver married Asa, the daughter of 
King Harold of the Red Moustache from Norway. 
Their son was Sigurth Hring. King Randver died 
suddenly, and Sigurth Hring succeeded to the 
Kingdom of Denmark. He fought against King 
Harold Hilditonn at the Battle of Bravoll in East 
Gautland, and there King Harold fell, and a great 
multitude of his army with him. This battle and the 
one which Angantyr and his brother Hloth fought 
at Dunheith are the battles which have been most 
famous in stories of old. Never were any greater 
slaughters made. 


King Sigurth Hring ruled the Kingdom of the 
Danes till the day of his death; and his son Ragnar 
Lothbrok succeeded him. 

Harold Hilditonn had a son called Eystein the 
Wicked, who succeeded to the Swedish Realm after 
his father, and ruled it until he was slain by the sons 
of Ragnar Lothbrok, as is related in the Saga of 
Ragnar Lothbrok. The sons of Ragnar Lothbrok 
conquered all the Swedish Kingdom; and after the 
death of King Ragnar, his son, Bjorn Ironside, in- 
herited Sweden, and Sigurth Denmark, Hvitserk the 
Eastern Realm, and Ivar the Boneless England. 

The sons of Bjorn Ironside were Eric and Refil. 
The latter was a warrior-prince and sea-king. King 
Eric ruled the Swedish Realm after his father, and 
lived but a short time. Then Eric the son of Refil 
succeeded to the Kingdom. He was a great warrior 
and a very powerful King. The sons of Eric Bjornsson 
were Onund of Upsala and King Bjorn. Then the 
Swedish Realm again came to be divided between 
brothers. They succeeded to the Kingdom on the 
death of Eric Refilsson. King Bjorn built a house 
called 'Barrow,' and he himself was called Bjorn 
of the Barrow. Bragi the poet was with him. King 
Onund had a son called Eric, and he succeeded to 
the throne at Upsala after his father. He was a 
mighty King. In his days Harold the Fair-haired 
made himself King of Norway. He was the first to 
unite the whole of that country under his sway. 

Eric at Upsala had a son called Bjorn, who came 
to the throne after his father and ruled for a long 
time. The sons of Bjorn, Eric the Victorious, and 
Olaf succeeded to the kingdom after their father. 


Olaf was the father of Styrbjorn the Strong. In their 
days King Harold the Fair-haired died. Styrbjorn 
fought against King Eric his father's brother at 
Fyrisvellir, and there Styrbjorn fell. Then Eric ruled 
Sweden till the day of his death. He married Sigrith 
the Ambitious. They had a son called Olaf who was 
accepted as King in Sweden after King Eric. He 
was only a child at the time and the Swedes carried 
him about with them, and for this reason they called 
him ' Skirt-King,' and then, later, Olaf the Swede. 
He ruled for a long time and was a powerful King. 
He was the first king of Sweden to be converted, and 
in his days, Sweden was nominally Christian. 

King Olaf the Swede had a son called Onund who 
succeeded him. He died in his bed. In his day fell 
King Olaf the Saint at Stiklestad. Olaf the Swede 
had another son called Eymund, who came to the 
throne after his brother. In his day the Swedes 
neglected the Christian religion, but he was King 
for only a short time. 

There was a great man of noble family in Sweden 
called Steinkel. His mother's name was Astrith, 
the daughter of Njal the son of Fin the Squinter, from 
Halogaland; and his father was Rognvald the Old. 
Steinkel was an Earl in Sweden at first, and then 
after the death of Eymund, the Swedes elected him 
their King. Then the throne passed out of the line 
of the ancient kings of Sweden. Steinkel was a 
mighty prince. He married the daughter of King 
Eymund. He died in his bed in Sweden about the 
time that King Harold fell in England. 

Steinkel had a son called Ingi, who became King 
of Sweden after Haakon. Ingi was King of Sweden 

1 42 THE SAGAS [PT. 

for a long time, and was popular and a good Christian. 
He tried to put an end to heathen sacrifices in 
Sweden and commanded all the people to accept 
Christianity; yet the Swedes held to their ancient 
faith. King Ingi married a woman called Maer who 
had a brother called Svein. King Ingi liked Svein 
better than any other man, and Svein became thereby 
the greatest man in Sweden. The Swedes considered 
that King Ingi was violating the ancient law of the 
land when he took exception to many things which 
Steinkel his father had permitted, and at an assembly 
held between the Swedes and King Ingi, they offered 
him two alternatives, either to follow the old order, 
or else to abdicate. Then King Ingi spoke up and 
said that he would not abandon the true faith; 
whereupon the Swedes raised a shout and pelted 
him with stones, and drove him from the assembly. 

Svein, the King's brother-in-law, remained behind 
in the assembly, and offered the Swedes to do sacrifices 
on their behalf if they would give him the Kingdom. 
They all agreed to accept Svein' s offer, and he was 
then recognised as King over all Sweden. A horse 
was then brought to the assembly and hewn in pieces 
and cut up for eating, and the sacred tree was smeared 
with blood. Then all the Swedes abandoned Chris- 
tianity, and sacrifices were started again. They drove 
King Ingi away; and he went into Vestergotland. 
Svein the Sacrificer was King of Sweden for three 

King Ingi set off with his retinue and some of his 
followers, though it was but a small force. He then 
rode eastwards by Smaland and into Ostergotland 
and then into Sweden, He rode both day and night, 


and came upon Svein suddenly in the early morning. 
They caught him in his house and set it on fire and 
burned the band of men who were within. 

There was a baron called Thjof who was burnt 
inside. He had been previously in the retinue of 
Svein the Sacrificer. Svein himself left the house, but 
was slain immediately. 

Thus Ingi once more received the Kingdom of 
Sweden ; and he reestablished Christianity and ruled 
the Kingdom till the end of his life, when he died 
in his bed. 

King Steinkel had, besides Ingi, another son 
Hallstein who reigned along with his brother. 
Hallstein's sons were Philip and Ingi, and they 
succeeded to the Kingdom of Sweden after King 
Ingi the elder. Philip married Ingigerth, the daughter 
of King Harold the son of Sigurth. He reigned for 
only a short time. 



The following passage is taken from an early text 
of the Saga of Hervor and Heithrek (MS. 2845 in t ^ ie 
Royal Library at Copenhagen) where it occurs 
immediately after the earl's speech (" The death of 
mighty men " etc.) on p. 92*. 

When the brothers came home they made ready 
to go to the combat, and their father accompanied 
them to the ship and gave the sword Tyrfing to 
Angantyr, saying: 

" I think that you will have need of good weapons 

He then bade them farewell, and so they parted. 

And when the brothers came to Sams0 they saw 
two ships lying in a harbour which was called Munar- 
vag. The ships were of the kind called ' Ash.' The 
brothers concluded that these must be the ships of 
Hjalmar and Odd the Far-travelling, who was called 
Orvar-Odd. The sons of Arngrim then drew their 
swords and gnawed the rims of their shields and 
worked themselves up into the berserks' fury. Then 
they sallied forth, six against each 'Ash,' but so 
brave were the men whom they encountered on board 
that they all drew their weapons, and not one fled 
from his post, and not one spoke a word of fear. And 

1 Printed in Wimmer's Oldnordisk Lcesebog (4th ed.) p. 29 ff. 
The poetry is also found, though with many divergent readings, in 
Qrvar-Odds Saga, ch. 14 (Fornaldarsogur, Vol. n, p. 217 ff.). 


the berserks made their way up one side of the ship 
and down the other and slew them all. Then they 
landed and began to howl. 

Hjalmar and Odd had landed on the Island to find 
out if the berserks had come. And as they made their 
way from the forest to join their ships, the berserks 
were leaving the ships with bloody weapons and 
drawn swords. But by this time the berserk fury 
had passed away from them, and at such times their 
strength is reduced like that of people who are 
recovering from illness of some kind. 

Then said Odd: 

I never knew aught of terror 

Till today when the berserks came. 
They have sailed to this isle in their ashen ships, 

All twelve devoid of shame, 
And landed with many a whoop and yell, 

Those wretches of evil fame. 

Then said Hjalmar to Odd: "Do you see that all 
our men are fallen? It is my belief that we shall all 
be Othin's guests tonight in Valhalla." 

And it is said that that was the only word of 
fear ever uttered by Hjalmar. 

Odd replied : " My advice would be that we should 
make off to the wood; for we shall never be able to put 
up a fight, being only two against twelve and twelve 
too who have slain the twelve bra vest men in Sweden." 

Then said Hjalmar: " We will never flee from our 
foes. Rather will we suffer the worst that their weapons 
can inflict. I am going to fight against the berserks." 

"Not so," replied Odd; "I have no mind to visit 
Othin tonight. It is all these berserks who must perish 
before evening comes ; but you and I will be left alive." 

: 4 6 THE SAGAS [PT. 

An account of their dialogue is found in these 
verses which Hjalmar chanted: 

Twelve berserks hasten onward, 

Inglorious warriors; 
Leaving their warships on they come; 

And when night's shadow lowers 
We two shall feast in Othin's hall, 

Leaving them conquerors. 

But Odd replied: 

This is the answer I give thee: 
In Othin's hall tonight, 

Twelve berserks shall feast, 

Every one as a guest, 
While we shall live on in the light. 

Hjalmar and Odd saw that Angantyr had Tyrfing 
in his hand, for it flashed like a sunbeam. 

Hjalmar said: "Will you fight against Angantyr 
alone, or against all his eleven brothers?" 

" I will fight against Angantyr," replied Odd ; " He 
will give mighty strokes with Tyrfing; but I have 
more faith in the protection of my shirt than in that 
of your mail-coat." 

Then cried Hjalmar: "When did you and I ever 
go to battle and you took the lead of me? You want 
to fight Angantyr because you hold that to be the 
deed of greater prowess. I am the leader in this 
combat, however, and far other was the vow I made 
to the daughter of the King of the Swedes than to let 
you or anybody else come before me in the fight. 
It is I who am going to fight Angantyr. 

And with that he drew his sword and stepped 
forth to meet Angantyr and they commended one 


another to Valhalla 1 . Hjalmar and Angantyr then 
made ready for the combat, and mighty strokes fell 
thick and fast between them. 

Odd called to the berserks, saying : 

Man to man should a warrior fight 

Who would win a well-fought day, 
Unless it be that his courage fail, 
Or his valour has ebbed away. 

Then Hjorvarth advanced, and he and Odd had a 
stiff encounter; but Odd's silken shirt was so strong 
that no weapon could pierce it. And so good was his 
sword that it cut through iron as easily as cloth ; and 
few strokes had he dealt ere Hjorvarth fell dead. 

Then Hervarth came on and the same thing 
happened ; then Hrani, then each of the others in 
turn. And with such force did Odd encounter them 
all that he slew every one of the eleven brothers. As 
for the combat between Hjalmar and Angantyr, the 
upshot was that Hjalmar was wounded in sixteen 
places, and then Angantyr fell dead. 

Then Odd went over to where Hjalmar lay and 

O Hjalmar! Why has thy face grown pale 
As the face of men who die? 

Wide gape the rents in byrnie and helm, 
And I fear that the end draws nigh; 

And the strength of manhood has gone from thine arm, 
And the light of life from thine eye. 

1 In late (paper) MSS. the following passage is here added. 
"Angantyr said: 'It is my wish that if any of us escapes from here 
we should not rob one another of our weapons. If I die, I wish to 
have Tyrfing in the barrow with me. Odd likewise shall have his 
shirt and Hjalmar his weapons!' And they agreed that those who 
were left alive were to raise a barrow for the others." 

Then follows a long description of the fighting. 


Hjalmar made answer 1 : 
With sixteen wounds is my mailcoat rent, 

And the world is fading fast. 
Blindly I tread in the gathering gloom, 

Pierced to the heart at the last 
By Angantyr's sword with its pitiless point 

And its edges in poison cast. 

*I have given no cause to Ingibjorg 

To hold my prowess light; 
It shall never be said by our maidens at home 

That I gave one thought to flight. 
They shall hear how the battle was fought and won. 

How I wielded my sword in the fight. 

Five manors were mine, all nobly appointed, 

Where I might have tarried and made good cheer. 

Yet my heart was stirred by a restless longing 
That urged me onward to Samso here, 

Where, pierced by the sword, with my life blood out pouring, 
I shall linger and die on this island so drear. 

In my mind I can see the henchmen 

Drinking mead in my father's hall. 
A circle of gold is round every throat, 

And joy is among them all. 
My merry companions are drinking their ale, 

Till thought and care are no more, 
While I, torn with wounds from a murderous sword, 

Perish here on this island shore. 

*The lofty halls of Sigtun, 

I see them from far away; 
And the maidens who sought to withhold us 

As we hastened forth on our way. 

1 This poem is given more fully in Orvar-Odds Saga than in 
Hervarar Saga. The strophes which occur only in the former are 
marked with an asterisk. I have re-arranged the order of the 
stanzas, in regard to which there is considerable variation between 
the two texts. 


I shall never again see those maidens, 

Or talk with the warriors bold, 
Or drink fair ale in the King's high hall, 

As I did in the days of old. 

In my heart a voice still lingers, 

The voice of a maiden fair, 
Who rode with me forth to Agni's meads, 

And bade farewell to me there. 
And true, too true, were the words she spake 

From the depths of her despair, 
That never again should I touch her lips, 

Or tangle her golden hair. 

In my ear a song is ringing, 

An echo from out the East, 
I heard it from Soti's cliffs on the night 

When I left my friends at the feast. 
How could I know that never again 

Should I hear the maidens' lay, 
As I hastened forth with my heart aflame, 

And my good ship sailed away? 

*In token of what has befallen, 

My helmet and corslet take, 
And bear them forth to the King's high hall. 

'Tis the last request I make. 
The prince's daughter, fair Ingibjorg, 

Will be stricken with grief and pain 
When she looks on my good shield hacked and rent, 

And knows that her love was vain. 

Draw from my arm this token, 

This ring of gleaming gold; 
And bear it to Ingibjorg the fair, 

Lest she deem my love grown cold. 
Young is the maid to bear the sorrow 

Her heart must then endure, 
When I ride not home to greet her, 

When I keep not my tryst as of yore 

150 THE SAGAS [PT. i 

*I left the youthful Ingibjorg 

Upon that fateful day, 
When rashly we placed our fortunes 

In the hands of Destiny. 
O heavy will be the maiden's grief, 

The sorrow she must endure 
When she knows I have fallen in battle, 

And will enter her hall no more. 

From the tree tops away to the Eastward 

There gather a loathly brood: 
Raven and eagle are swooping 

To wet their bills in my blood. 
Full many a feast has the eagle had 
Of carrion slain by me: 

I have fought my last fight, 
And I pass to the night; 
And now he shall feast on me. 

Then Hjalmar died 1 . Odd brought the tidings 
to Sweden; and the King's daughter could not 
bear to live after Hjalmar, so she took her own 
life. Angantyr and his brothers were laid in a bar- 
row in Sams0 with all their weapons. 

1 In paper MSS. the following passage occurs here: 
"Odd remained there all night. In the morning he brought 
together the bodies of all the berserks and then set about building 
barrows. The islanders built chambers of great oaks as Odd directed 
them, and then piled up stones and sand on the top. They were 
strongly constructed, and it was a great achievement. Odd was busy 
at this work for a fortnight. Then he placed the berserks in with 
their weapons and closed the barrows. After this Odd took Hjalmar's 
body and carried it to a ship and conveyed it to Sweden." 





I. The ballads of the Faroe Islands aroused the 
interest of Ole Worm as early as 1639; but the five 
ballads which he took down are no longer extant, 
and we know of them only from a reference by 
Peder Syv 1 towards the close of the seventeenth 
century. In 1673 Lucas Debes 2 wrote a description 
of the islands which contained an account of their 
dances and songs; but unfortunately he did not 
transcribe any of the ballads. Indeed the balladry 
and songs attracted little general attention till the 
close of the eighteenth century, when Jens Kristjan 
Svabo devoted himself to a careful study of the 
language and a collection of the ballads of his native 

In 17812, during a visit to the Faroes, Svabo 
turned his attention especially to Faroese folk-songs 
and made a MS. collection of fifty-two ballads, which 
were purchased by the Crown Prince and presented 
to the Royal Library at Copenhagen. It is interesting 
to note that Svabo, like his contemporary Bishop 
Percy 3 , thought it necessary to apologise in his preface 

1 Cf. S. Grundtvig, Meddelelse Angaende F&rf ernes Litter atur og 
sprog } in Aarbjgerfor Nordisk Oldkyndighed, published by the Royal 
Norse Early Text Society (Copenhagen), 1882, p. 358. 

2 Fcsroa Reserata (Copenhagen, 1673), pp. 251 and 308 (tr. John 
Sterpin, London, 1676). 

3 Reliques, Vol. i, Epistle to the Countess of Northumberland. 

1 54 BALLADS [PT. 

for making the collection, and humbly claims for it 
an interest merely antiquarian. It is clear, however, 
from his tone throughout the Preface, that Svabo 
had a far more scholarly appreciation of the value of 
his material than had Percy. Indeed it would be 
difficult to overestimate the debt which all succeed- 
ing students of Faroese ballads owe to him. Dis- 
appointed in his hopes of public recognition of his 
work done for the Civil Service, he" retired to the 
Islands, where, in solitude and poverty, he devoted 
himself, till his death in 1829, to the collection and 
transcription of ballad material. His personal help 
and example inspired other Faroe-islanders to make 
collections for themselves, some of which, notably 
Klemmentsen's Sandoyjarbok, are among our best 
authorities for the ballads today. His own ballad 
collection, still in MS. in the Royal Library at Copen- 
hagen, has never been published; but Schr0ter, 
Lyngbye and Hammershaimb all owed their incentive 
and inspiration to his work. To study the history of 
Faroese ballad collections without realising the force of 
Svabo' s personality is to leave Hamlet out of the play. 
In 1817 the Danish botanist, Hans Kristjan 
Lyngbye visited the Faroes, where he became ac- 
quainted with "the learned Svabo" as he calls him, 
and also with Johan Henrik Schr0ter, a clergyman 
on Suder0, himself a keenly interested ballad collec- 
tor, and, incidentally, the first to make a collection 
of Faroese folk-tales in prose. Partly from these 
men, and partly from oral recitations and material 
supplied by Provost Hentze, Lyngbye was able to 
gather together a considerable body of Faroese 
ballads which, with the support and encouragement 


of Bishop P. E. Mtiller, he published at Copen- 
hagen in 1822, under the title of Fteroiske Kv^eder 
om Sigurd Fofnersbane og hans &t. 

Unfortunately Lyngbye knew no Icelandic and 
very little Faroese, and his work necessarily suffers 
in consequence. Still more unfortunate was his 
unscientific handling of material and lack of literary 
conscience, which permitted his cutting out, adding 
and transposing stanzas and again we are re- 
minded of the Reliques till the original form of 
a ballad is sometimes entirely lost. Fortunately, 
however, most of the material that he had at his 
command is still preserved. It is to be noted that 
the qualities which go to make an ideal collector of 
ballads do not always imply an ideal editor of the 
material collected. The great collector of Jutland 
ballads and folk-lore, Evald Tang Kristensen, has 
started a new and sounder tradition by a reverent 
in-gathering of all that formed part of the common 
stock of peasant lore in his day 1 . The sifting of 
material is wisely left to the trained scholar, and, one 
hopes, to a later and less intrepid generation 2 . 

The tradition started by Svabo and Lyngbye was 
carried on by V. U. Hammershaimb, himself a 
native of the Islands and a great lover of Faroese 
folk-lore. During the years 1847-8, and again in 
1853, he visited the Faroes expressly to study the 
dialects, and to collect the native ballads and folk- 
lore, which he published under the title of F^erb'iske 

1 Cf . W. A. Craigie, Evald Tang Kristensen, A Danish Folk-lorist, 
in Folklore, Vol. ix, 1898, pp. 194-220. 

2 Cf. C. J. Sharp, English Folk Songs from the Southern Appala- 
chians (London, 1917), p. xxii. 


Kv<eder in the Nordiske Liter atur-S am} und> the Anti- 
'quarisk Tidsskrift, etc. 

Like Svabo, Hammershaimb eventually returned 
and settled on the Faroes; but unfortunately, owing 
to the pressure of his administrative duties, he was 
never able to spare time for a final revision of his 
collection, though urged repeatedly to the work by 
his friend Svend Grundtvig. Ultimately, however, 
when Grundtvig himself undertook to make an 
exhaustive critical edition of the Faroese ballads in 
all their variant forms, Hammershaimb placed all 
his material in his hands. 

Svend Grundtvig and his colleague J. Bloch, of 
the Royal Library staff, completed in 1876 their 
great fifteen vol. MS. collection of Faroese ballads 
with all their known variants, Ffroyja Kv<edi 
Corpus Carminum Faeroensium Fterfiernes Gamle 
Folkeviser. This was afterwards increased by Bloch to 
sixteen volumes by the addition of much new material, 
some of which was collected by Jakobsen in his 
journey to the Faroes in iSSy 1 . Before beginning 
the work Grundtvig had every available version, 
whether in public or private hands, at his disposal, 
so that he had a magnificent apparatus criticus. Un- 
fortunately the work has never been published, so 
that owing to the difficulties of communication with 
Denmark (which have proved to be insuperable) it 
has been impossible for me to consult it. The first 
three volumes, however, which include all the 
Faroese ballads translated below, are based on 
Hammershaimb' s collections of 18511855. Ham- 

1 Axel Olrik, Om Svend Grundtvigs og Jorgen Blocks Fjroyjakvtefti 
ogfferfske ordbog, in Arkivfor Nordisk Filologi (Lund, 1890), p. 249. 


mershaimb was himself a genuine scholar with a 
sensitive literary conscience and a thorough know- 
ledge of all the Faroese dialects, and his work is 
spoken of in the highest terms by Grundtvig in his 
article on the Corpus Carminum Faroensium 1 . More- 
over Hammershaimb had consulted all the other avail- 
able versions of these ballads before printing; so that 
it is improbable that when a comparison of the texts 
can be made much alteration will be required. 

II. The Faroe Islands are probably the only 
place to be found in Western Europe where ballads 
are still sung to the accompaniment of the dance. 
The dance and song, it must be confessed, are gradu- 
ally losing their original character, while the 
ballads are often long and unwieldy, sometimes, 
as in the Ballad of Ivint Herintsson, running to 
five divisions (T<ettir) and over three hundred and 
fifty verses. The verses are frequently chanted in 
a solemn recitative, while the ballad tunes tend to 
be confined chiefly to the refrains. The method of 
supplying the melody, however, is subject to almost 
endless variation. Sometimes old native folk tunes 
are attached to special ballads, e.g. in the case of 
Vi hugged mid kaarde\ sometimes native ballads are 
sung to Danish folk melodies and refrains as, e.g. 
Grindevisen, sung to the tune of the Danish 
Eurmand holder i Fj<eldet ut. Sometimes in the 
Faroese repertoire, Norse ballads are found complete 
with their own melodies, e.g. Sjmandsviserne, or sung 
to Danish folk-tunes, e.g. Zinklars Vise. Most curious 
of all is the method not infrequently resorted to in 

1 Sv. Grundtvig, Feer^ernes Litteratur og Sprog, in Aarb^s, for 
Nord. Oldk., 1882, p. 364. 


modern times of singing native ballads, often of 
modern origin, to the tunes of the Protestant 
Psalmody a custom which may have had its origin 
in the common practice of singing both ballads and 
psalms on all momentous occasions, such as on the 
night of a wedding, or before starting on a big fishing 
expedition. The Islanders have little idea of tone 
or melody and do not sing well ; and eye-witnesses 
of some of the ballad dances at Thorshaven aver that 
the tunes sound less like dance music than melan- 
choly dirges. In Folkesangen -paa Fterfarne (F#rfake 
Kvadmelodier\ pp. 85140, Thuren has published a 
large number of original ballad tunes. The charac- 
teristic motifs of folk tunes are traceable through- 
out, as well as their elusive qualities. Thus we find, 
side by side with airs based on the ordinary major 
and minor scales, others which, like mediaeval 
church music, are based on a 'modal' or 'gapped* 
tonal system. Indeed traces of the pentatonic scale 
are not infrequently met with, especially in the tunes 
attached to the earlier ballads. The majority of 
Faroese melodies, however, have only one gap and 
have more in common with the system of notation 
found in Gregorian music than with the pentatonic 
scale of many Hebridean lays. A further character- 
istic of folk music which appears in most Faroese airs 
is the curious form of close which rarely occurs on the 
tonic. Not infrequently the theme ends on the leading 
note or supertonic which strikes the ear with a per- 
petual surprise, the cadence leading one to anticipate 
a repetition rather than a conclusion of the air. The 
reason is that these tunes, like many folk songs from 
Somerset, the Appalachians and the Hebrides, were 


'circular/ that is, formed for continuous repetition 
to suit the lengthy nature of the songs and ballads. 

The ballad however is not a mere historical relic 
on the Faroes, but a living literary form. The 
simplicity of the life, and the absence of class dis- 
tinction 1 , still constitute an atmosphere in some 
respects not unlike that of Mediaeval Denmark, and 
the ballad is the favourite form of artistic expression. 
A whale-hunt, a shipwreck, or the adventures of 
fishermen in the far north are still made the subject 
of a new ballad, composed by one or more of the 
community; and if the result finds general favour 
it is added to the ballad repertoire along with the 
ballads of Sir Tristram or Childe Sigurth 2 . 

In his description of his travels on the Faroes 
18478, V. U. Hammershaimb 3 says that he took 
down the greater number of his ballads at Sumb0 
on Suder0, the most southerly village in the Islands. 
He describes the ballad dance as follows : 

It is the custom here that the same ballad should not be 
sung more than once a year 4 in the 'dancing-chamber,' so 

1 Cf. N. Annandale, The Faroes and Iceland (Oxford, 1905), p. 42. 

2 For interesting accounts of the composition of new ballads, 
cf. Lyngbye's article in the Skandinavske Litteraturselskabs Skrifter, 
1 2th and I3th Annual, p. 234 ff. ; also P. E. Muller, Introduction to 
Lyngbye's Peer. Kv., pp. 14, 15. The Trawlaravisur and other 
ballads, besides the dances and tunes of the Faroe Islands of today, 
have been investigated by Thuren who published several studies 
on this most interesting subject, e.g. Dans og Kvaddigtning paa 
F&rjerne, med et Musikbilag, 1901. Folkesangen paa Fterjerne, 
1908, etc., (cf. especially Nyere Danseviser, pp. 273-282), etc. 

3 Antiq. Tidsk., 1846-1848, pp. 258-267. 

4 According to H. Thuren, Dansen paa Feerjerne (Copenhagen, 
1908), p. 9, a certain fixed number of songs are now sung on Suder0; 
a great many have been quite forgotten since Hammershaimb wrote. 


that the repertoire is obviously extensive, seeing that they 
dance at wedding feasts, generally for three days and nights 
without cessation. In the special dancing season from Yule 
till Lent, the ballads are danced not only on Sundays but 
also on the so-called 'Feast Days.' (They do not dance again 
from the beginning of Lent till the day after Christmas.) 
The dance at Sumb^ has characteristics of its own which 
differ from those of the rest of the Faroes. The people here 
generally sing well and know how to put expression into the 
actual dance. Elsewhere on the Islands this is now for the 
most part reduced to a uniform stamp with the feet, marking 
the melody of the ballad. Moreover they still continue here 
in common use both the 'Walking Verse' (stigingar stev) 
and the more rapid measure 'Tripping Verse ' (trokingar 
stev) of the Round Dance, in which, as a rule, the dancers 
hold one another by the hand, forming a circle, dancing 
backwards while the verse (orindi) is sung, and reversing the 
movement with considerable energy during the singing of 
the refrain (vidgangur, nidur/ag, stev). This round dance is 
characteristic of Sumb^ 1 . 

For the most part the dance is now performed with 
the same speed in both verse and refrain 2 , and 
though little changed since Hammershaimb wrote, 
it tends more and more to become a solemn and 
joyless function; and there is a curious unanimity 
today among eyewitnesses as to the depressing effect it 
has on them. Hjalmar Thuren, writing in later times 
(1908), furnishes some additional information as to the 
manner of the ballad dance 3 . The ballads are danced 
with special zest on the 29th of July, the day of the 
anniversary of the death of Saint Olaf, when all the 
islanders who can leave their homes flock to Thors- 

1 It is also occasionally danced in Andefjord, but only very rarely 
nowadays (cf. H. Thuren, Dansen paa Farferne, p. 8). 

2 Ib., p. 8. 3 /., pp 4-10. 


haven and dance from sunset till sunrise. Sometimes 
the ballads are danced in the open air, and it has been 
the custom in certain districts from ancient times to 
hold assemblies for dancing out in the fields on certain 
fixed days. On the I2th Sunday after Trinity people 
meet in definite places on the Northern Islands. On 
the other hand the dance is often the spontaneous 
outcome of the desire of the moment, "as much to 
keep themselves warm as for the sake of entertain- 
ment." Thus after a whale-hunt the men sometimes 
dance in their wet, bloody clothes, singing the 
popular ballad of the ca'ing whale with the refrain: 

To us bold men great joy it is 

To slay a whale ! 

The dance is always accompanied by song, but 
instrumental music has never been in use on the 
Faroes. The time and character of the dance are indi- 
cated at the beginning of the ballad by the precentor. 
This post of honour was originally much sought after 
and some precentors were famous over the islands 
for their special rendering of certain ballads, some 
of which were family possessions in the old days. 

When a ballad is concluded, one of those who are 
taking part straightway begins on a new one, the 
dance frequently continuing uninterrupted, even 
when the song is ended. The precentor must have a 
strong voice and great powers of endurance as the 
ballads are often very long. He is generally of a 
lively disposition with some dramatic power, so that 
by imitating his gesticulations the dancers give 
character and individuality to the ballad. Thus in 
the refrain to the Death-Song of Ragnar Lodbrok: 
We struck with the sword 


1 62 BALLADS [PT. 

the dancers stamp on the floor and clap hands to- 
gether; but they are solemn and silent during the 
singing of a sorrowful ballad such as 
Queen Dagmar lies sick, etc. 

With the ballad dances of the Faroes it is interesting 
to compare the ballad dances of the Ukraine and 
also the choral dances of a community so far removed 
as the Torres Straits. Of these latter Dr Haddon 
writes * : 

The dancing-ground was an oblong space The drummer 

with the singers generally struck up a song, but sometimes 
the dancers sang a refrain or called for a song by name. Each 
song seemed to be associated with its own particular dance 
and to be accompanied by some story or incident which was 
illustrated by the movements of the dancers. 

A much closer parallel, however, is furnished by 
the XopOBO.n.'L or choral dance of Little Russia. 
The XopOBOAt, according to the account of an 
eye witness 2 , is not only a song sung to the accompani- 
ment of a dance; but the song is narrative in form 
and answers in all respects to the ballad of North 
Western Europe. The dancers join hands and dance 
in a circle from west to east, in a contrary direction 
to the sun's movements wither shins as the Scots 
peasants have it. Then, because it is considered 
unlucky to do anything wither shins, in the refrain 
the motion is reversed and the dancers pass from 
east to west, to counteract the baleful effects of the 

1 Dances and Dance Paraphernalia, in Expedition to the Torres 
Straits (Cambridge, 1904), Vol. iv, p. 292. 

2 Miss Aline Brylinska, who has kindly supplied me with this 


first direction. Here too, however, it is interesting 
to note, the dance is sometimes stationary. 

III. Into the rise of the ballads on the Faroes and 
their exact relation of form and content to the Ice- 
landic Fomkoadf 1 ) and to the Viser of Norway 2 , 
Sweden 3 , and above all of Denmark 4 , it is impossible 
to enter here. Perhaps the relationship between the 
ballads of the various countries of the North will 
never be fully understood. The ramifications are too 
many and too complex, while too many links in the 
chain have already been lost in the "scrubby paper 
books" such as that with which Bishop Percy found 
the housemaid lighting the parlour fire. And those 
who would too hastily dogmatise on the 'con- 
veyance,' translation, and borrowing of the various 
versions receive a wholesome warning from Dr Axel 
Olrik's analysis 5 of the ancestry and parallel versions 
of the Scots, Icelandic, Swedish, Norwegian and 
Danish forms of the ballads of Earl Brand (Dan. 
Riboldsvisen). Moreover it is no easier to generalise 
about the sources of the Faroese ballad material than 
about the Danish. The motif of the Faroese Tristrams 
Tdttur^ also found in the Icelandic ballad of Tristram^ 
comes ultimately (through the Tristram's Saga one 
would suppose) from a French romance; that of 

1 S. Grundtvig and Jon Sigurftsson, Islenzk Fornkv<z$t, in 
Nordiske Oldskrifter (Copenhagen, 1854-85). 

2 Landstad, Norske Folkeviser (Christiania, 1853); S. Bugge, 

3 Geijer and Afzelius, 1814-1816, 1880; Arwidsson, 1834-1842. 

4 S. Grundtvig, Danmarks Gamle Folkeviser, 1853-1890. S. 
Grundtvig and A. Olrik. Danske Ridderviser, 1895-1919. 

5 Riboldsvisen (a review of von der Recke's Nogle Folkevisere- 
daktioner) in Danske Studier, 1906, p. 175 ff. 

II 2 

1 64 BALLADS [PT. 

Nornagest, changed though it is in form, is surely 
founded on the Icelandic Saga; Olufu Kv<edi comes 
no doubt from a Spanish story; and the motif of the 
Scots ballad of Binnorie is " found also among the 
people of Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and 
the Faroes 1 ." 

It would be pleasant to develop a theory that the 
purveyors of ballad material were the sailors and 
merchants who plied up and down the great trade 
routes in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, or 
even earlier. It has been suggested by Professor Ker 2 
and others that Shetland may have been "the chief 
meeting-place or trading station between the ballads 
of Scotland and Norway." The Shetland ballad 
of Sir Orfeo actually has a refrain in Norn, the 
Norse dialect spoken in Shetland and the small 
neighbouring islands till the eighteenth century; 
while the ballad of Hildina taken down by Low 3 on 
the Island of Foula off Shetland (cf. p. 2 1 7 below) 
is entirely composed in Norn. Indeed we know from 
Low's account 4 that many ballads and songs must 
have perished with the language: 

Nothing remains but a few names of things and two or 
three remnants of songs which one old man can repeat; 

and further on he continues : 

Most of the fragments they have are old historical ballads 
and romances William Henry, a farmer in Guttorm in 

1 Landstad, Norske Folkeviser, note to Dei Tvo Systar, p. 867. 

2 On the Danish Ballads (Scottish Historical Review, Vol. i, No. 4, 
July, 1904), p. 362. 

3 A Tour through Orkney and Schetland in 1774, Kirkwall, 1879. 
Cf. also Preface to Sorla Tbattr, p. 39 ff . above. 

4 /., p. 105 ff. 


Foula has the most knowledge of any I found; he spoke of 
three kinds of poetry used in Norn, and repeated or sung by 
the old men; the Ballad (or Romance, I suppose); the Vysie 
or vyse, now commonly sung to dancers 1 ; and the simple song 
Most of all their tales are relative to the history of Norway; 
they seem to know little of the rest of Europe but by names; 
Norwegian transactions they have at their fingers' ends. 

One would like to have known more about Norn 
and its 'Vysies,' which might have formed an in- 
teresting and instructive link between some of the 
Northern ballads. On the other hand, the Scandi- 
navian colonies in Ireland, and settlers in English 
ports such as Bristol, may have done not a little, 
through their trade with France and the Mediter- 
ranean countries, to spread the new rhyming four 
line verse and the romantic stories of southern and 
eastern Europe 2 . 

While this obscurity remains as to the connection 
between the Faroese ballads and those of neigh- 
bouring countries, notably Denmark, the questions 
of the age and origin of many of the Faroese ballads 
in their present form are also frought with difficulty. 
Of the Danish ballads, which sometimes offer 
parallels so close as to suggest translation from one 
language to the other, the first MS. collection that 
can be dated with certainty was written down in 
1550. But there is much evidence, both internal and 

1 The Vyse, be it observed, is the Danish word most commonly 
used to denote a ballad. The Faroese use Kvce^i^ and less frequently 

2 For an account of the Scandinavian settlements on the Bristol 
Channel, cf. A. Bugge, Contributions to the History of the Norsemen in 
Ireland, No. Ill, published in Fidenskabsselskabet i Ckristiania, 
Historisk-jilosojisk Klasse, n, 1900. 

1 66 BALLADS [PT. 

external, for assigning a much earlier date to the 
historical ballads at least. It has been suggested by 
Olrik 1 , who supports his view by arguments which 
it would be extremely difficult to contest, that many 
of the historical ballads are practically contempora- 
neous with the events which they describe, and 
some of these took place in the thirteenth century, 
while others, e.g. Riboldsvisen, are possibly of the 
twelfth century. 

Unfortunately we have fewer data, whether philo- 
logical or historical, for assigning dates to the 
Faroese ballads than we have for the Danish. There 
can be little doubt, however, that the ballads trans- 
lated below had their origin in the Fornaldar Sogur 
composed in Iceland during the thirteenth century 
or in some fourteenth century Rimur derived from 
the sagas. That many of the Faroese ballads were 
literary in origin 2 , and were based on either Sagas or 
Rfmur, is conclusively established by the opening 
lines of many of the ballads themselves, notably that 
of the Olufu Rim a : 

Ein er riman ur fslandi komin, 
Skrfvad f bok so breiSa. 

(" This story is come from Iceland, written in a book so 

And Trollini i Hornalandum : 

Verse I . Fr06i'5 er komid fra fslandi 
SkrfvaS f b6k so vfSa etc. 

1 Axel Olrik, Introduction to Danske Folkeviser i Udvalg, 3rd ed. 
(Copenhagen and Christiania, 1913), p. 40 ff. Cf. also Steenstrup, 
Fore Folkeviser (Copenhagen, 1891), ch. vn. 

2 On the literary sources of the Faroese ballads, cf. Steenstrup, 
op. cit. Introduction. 


Verse 2. Fr05iS er komiS fra fslandi 
Skn'va5 i bok so breiSa etc. 

Verse 3. Fr09i5 er komid fra fslandi 
Higar i5 skald ta5 tok, 
Havi5 taer hoyrt um kongin tann, 
f 5 skrivadur stendur i bok ? 

("This poem has come from Iceland, brought hither by 
a skald. Have you heard of the king about whom this book 
is written ? ") 

The passages quoted above would seem to point to 
Rimur rather than Sagas as the sources of the ballads. 
Or had more than one " Book so broad " come 
from Iceland ? One wonders. Heusler notices 1 the 
tendency to divide up the longer ballads into sections 
or 7W//r, each whole in itself and yet forming a part 
of the ballad, and suggests the Icelandic Rimur as 
the models for this particular form. It is even possible 
that the word Rima is used advisedly in the first 
strophe of Olufu Kv<edi, instead of the somewhat 
commoner Kv<edi> with some reminiscence of its 
origin. One of the Sjurdar Kv^edi (Dvorgamoy in) 
begins : 

Eina veit eg rfmuna, 

fS inni hevir ligid leingi. 

(I know a rhyme (or R.ima1] etc.) 
and Risin i Holmgard also begins : 

Eg veit eina rfmuna, 

f5 gjord er um Virgar sterka. 

Many other instances might be quoted. 
But it would be perilous to press too far what may, 
after all, be a mere verbal coincidence. And whatever 

1 Lied und Epos (Dortmund, 1915), p. 19. 

1 68 BALLADS [PT. 

gave rise to our poems as they now stand, it can- 
not be too strongly emphasised that they, like 
the rest of the Fvroyja Kv^edi^ are first and last 
Ballads rightly ballads. They have a form of their 
own, like other ballads, and are not a degenerate form 
of Rimur or a mere versification of some old Icelandic 
legends. Indeed what Professor Ker says of the 
Danish ballads 1 may with equal truth be applied to 
the ballads of the Faroes : 

The ballads are not rude, rustic travesties of older more 
dignified stories; though some, perhaps many, of the older 
stories may survive among the ballads. They are for Denmark 
in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries what the older 
heroic lays of the Poetic Edda had been before them in the 
Northern lands. They take the place of earlier heroic poetry. 

Whatever the nature of their connection with the 
ballads of the surrounding lands, the Faroese ballads 
are no isolated growth. They exhibit all the main 
characteristics of the ballad type, especially of the 
Danish, Norwegian and Icelandic ballads. Crude and 
inartistic they often are compared with the best of the 
Danish and even the Scottish ballads. The Ballad of 
Hjalmar and Angantyr has little to recommend it 
beyond its simplicity and naivete, the 'quaintness' of 
primitive literature; the Ballad of Arngrin? s Sons ex- 
hibits a curious lack of skill in the manipulation of 
the theme, and perhaps we are justified in assuming 
that two earlier ballads or perhaps tettir have been 
imperfectly welded. The Ballad of Nornagest is bald 
to a fault and lacks inspiration ; and all alike show an 
imperfect artistry in diction. 

1 On the History of the Ballads, IIOO-I^OO, published in Proceed- 
ings of the British Academy for 1902-1910, p. 202. 


Yet despite all these blemishes they are ballads as 
surely as Sir Patrick Spens or Ungen Sveidal are 
ballads. Nor is Professor Ker quite just to the ballads 
of the Faroes in saying 1 that because of their length, 
and " because they were made out of books, nothing 
but the lyrical form and the dancing custom kept 
them from turning into ordinary romances." Surely 
no material could be less promising than King 
Heithrek's Riddles; yet in virtue of what has been 
forgotten and what has been selected the telescoping 
of the riddles and the elaboration of the setting the 
ballad spirit has entered in and shaped from the 
unwieldy mass an artistic whole. 

Indeed whatever their faults one realises in all 
these ballads the truth of Sidgwick's epigram 2 : 
" You never know what a ballad will say next, though 
you do know how it is going to say it ! " For it is even 
less similarity of theme than similarity of form that 
links the ballads of the Faroes with those of Denmark 
and the North. The invariable accompaniment of 
the refrain; the fluctuation between assonance and 
rhyme, the disregard of alliteration, and the general 
verse form ; the love of repetition and ballad formulae, 
especially of repetition of whole phrases or verses 
with the alteration of merely the words that rhyme, 
or of repetition with inversion of word order; the 
balladist's love of colour, of the material and the 
concrete, of glitter and shine; the large element of 
dialogue; the abrupt dramatic openings; the con- 
densation and concentration of narrative and the 

1 On the History of the Ballads, etc., p. 202. 

2 Frank Sidgwick, The Ballad, London (Arts and Crafts of Letters 
Series), p. 61. 

170 BALLADS [PT. n 

strict exclusion of the irrelevant or superfluous; 
the infallible feeling for a 'situation'; the atmo- 
sphere of the tragic or the critical; the "echo, 
without comment, of the clash of man and fate 1 ." 
All these are the elements that make the ballad a 
form of literature distinct from other lyric or epic 
forms ; all these are the elements that go to make the 
Faroese ballads what they are part of what Ker calls 
the "Platonic Idea, a Ballad in itself, unchangeable 
and one, of which the phenomenal multitude of 
ballads are 'partakers 2 ." 3 

1 Gummere, The Popular Ballad (London, 1907), p. 340. 

2 On the History of the Ballads, etc., p. 204. 


In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in Iceland, 
many of the Sagas or portions of them were turned 
into rhyming verse known as Rimur. Sagas of almost 
every class were subjected to this treatment 
Islendinga Sogur, Fornaldar Sogur, Fornmanna Sogur 
and others. It is supposed that in the first place these 
rhymed versions (Rimur) were made for the purpose 
of recitation at social gatherings. There is ground for 
believing that the Rimur were sometimes recited, as 
an accompaniment of dances in Iceland 1 ; but this is 
not believed to have been the purpose for which they 
were originally composed 2 . 

According to both Jonsson 3 and Mogk 4 , the 
Rimur and other forms of rhyming verse in early 
Norse poetry originated in the Mediaeval Latin 
Church Hymns introduced into Iceland in the 
thirteenth century. The similarity between the 
rhyming metres of the Latin and many (though not 
all) of the forms of verse used in the Rimur is very 
striking. Whether the influence of Latin hymns in 
Iceland was directly responsible for the change, 
however, as Jonsson and Mogk believe, or whether 
the Latin hymns only influenced Norse verse in- 
directly through the medium of French poetry, is 

1 Cf. Finnur Jonsson, Oldnorske og Oldislandske Litteraturs 
Historic, Vol. m, p. 35. 

2 Cf. F. Jonsson, of. cit., Vol. in, p. 36; also Eugen Mogk, 
Geschichte der Norwegiscb-Isldndischen Literatur (Strasburg. 1904), 
p. 722. 

n Of. cit., in, p. 26 ff. 4 Of. >., p. 722 if. 


problematical. Perhaps these compositions owe 
their origin to the fashion of turning all kinds of 
material, likely and unlikely, into rhyming verse 
a fashion which originated in France, and from the 
latter part of the twelfth century onwards gradually 
made its way over most of the West and North of 
Europe. The rhyming chronicles of the fourteenth 
century in England may be mentioned as one in- 
stance of this fashion, and the rhyming paraphrases 
of the splendid prose of Iceland are an outcome of 
the same movement. 

The Gnplur^ some twenty stanzas of which are 
given below, represent this stage in the development 
of Icelandic literature. It may be observed that, like 
other Rimur, they are the work of educated people 
a fact which makes the wretched quality of much of 
the verse all the more striking, especially when they 
are contrasted with the ballads, which are, at least in 
most cases, the work of the unlettered. Unattractive 
however as they appear to the modern mind, it has 
been thought advisable to include a short extract 
from them here because it seems possible that in 
some cases the Faroese ballads may have derived 
their material from Iceland through the intermediate 
stage of the Rimur rather than from the Saga direct. 

Reference is made to the exploits of Hromund in 
other Rimur besides the Griplur, notably in the 
M4kh4ttakv<e$i) the Skida-Rima 1 (which is interesting 
as being based, in all probability, on an earlier poem 
than the Griplur) and in the Klerka-Rima 2 . And he 

1 Ed. by K. Maurer, Munich, 1869; F. J6nsson, Carmina 
Scaldica (Copenhagen. 1913). 

2 Codex A.M. 604 H. 

n] GRIPLUR I 173 

and Thrain the Berserk still live in the popular songs 
of the North. He is the Ungen Ranild^ of the Danish 
ballad; and in the Norwegian ballad Ramund den 
Unge 2 , Ramund (Hromund) and Holgi (Helgi) 
appear as rivals for the hand of Svanhvit (who, 
however, is not mentioned by name). Like some 
of the Faroese ballads on the Hervarar Saga^ these 
later versions are far removed from the story as we 
know it from early Icelandic sources 3 . They are of 
interest only to those who care for folk song and 
ballad for their freshness and their na'ive simpli- 
city 4 . 


9. Olaf was a mighty Prince 

Who governed Horthaland. 
The brave folk dwelling along the coast 
He guarded with his hand. 

10. Gnothar-Asmund, the Prince's father, 

A peerless man was he; 
By many a battle he reft from Kings 
Their land and territory. 

11. In the stern of the King's ship Kari stood, 

And of heroes many another; 
In strength of limb had he never a peer; 
And Ornulf was his brother. 

1 S. Grundtvig, Danmarks Gamle Folkeviser, Vol. i, p. 367 ff. 

2 M. B. Landstad, Norske Folkeviser (Christiania, 1853), p. 189 ff. 

3 Cf. Kolbing, Beitrdge zur V ' ergleicbenden Geschichte der Roman- 
tischen Poesie und Pros a des Mittelalters, pp. 185-187. 

4 For further ballads on the story of Hromund Greipsson, cf. 
Andrews, Studies in the Fornaldarsogur Nortbrlanda, in Modern 
Philology, 1911, 1912. 

1 74 BALLADS [PT. 

1 2. The King and his warriors reddened their swords 

In the blood of wicked men; 
But no man travelling with merchandise 
Got any hurt from them. 

13. The Prince brought joy to his followers' hearts, 

With Draupnir's beautiful blood. 
A franklin who better were named a burgess 
Beside the princes stood. 

14. Grip was a man who stirred up strife, 

Eager with blade for slaughter. 
This hero's wife was a good woman: 
Of Hrok the Black was she daughter. 

15. Grip and Gunnloth, his good wife, 

They had nine sons in all : 
(Clever verses are made about them) 
And Hrok did they every one call ! 

1 6. Hromund was a son of Grip, 

Eldest of the brothers was he; 
His heart knew never aught of fear, 
Nor faltered his valiancy. 

17. Hrolf must I add, Hogni, Haki and Gaut, 

And Throst with the other five; 

Angantyr and Helgi whose lot it was 

In the fortunes of war to thrive. 

1 8. Logi was youngest (a tiny lad) 

Of the sons of the worthy pair; 
Hromund alone sallied forth to fight in battle, 
And the rest stayed at home where they were. 

19. The hero feared neither fire nor sword 

When shields clashed in the fray; 
His shoulders were broad, and shining his hair, 
And kindly and keen was his eye. 

20. He never fled or deserted the host, 

But poured forth darts on the shield; 
Faithful and true in courage was he 
As a hero should be in the field. 


21. His wicked foe did he slay with might 

He knew no fear of pain; 
And all his noble courage and valour 
From his kinsman Hrok did he gain. 

22. Two villains were there with the King, 

Deep-versed in magic arts. 
I swear those brothers Bild and Vali 
Both had evil hearts! 

23. The King of Vali council takes, 

And a sad mistake made he; 
A name had he gained for courtesy and valour, 
But he never donned byrnie. 

24. Less trusty warrior in the field 

I never look to find; 
False he was and treacherous, 
Full of deceit his mind. 

25. The Prince's troop, the Ni flung men, 

Along Norway's coast did sail, 
Until they came to the Skerries of the Elf, 
Nor did their courage fail. 

26. The troop had prepared for a mighty battle, 

And against a promontory 
OlaPs men in their warships there 
Lay at anchor in the bay. 

27. "Over the Island do ye go," 

Thus to Kari spoke he, 
"To see if ye come on the vikings' ships, 
And if they are like to fight fiercely." 

28. Kari and Ornulf, clothed and armed, 

With shield and polished blade 
Examine the coast, and hastily 

A search through the island made. 

29. Six tall warships soon they see, 

Under the sea-cliffs lay they; 
And a ''Dragon'' carved in wondrous wise 
Beside the warships lay. 



The Ballad of Nornagest was published for the 
first time by Lyngbye in 1822 in Fteroiske Kv<eder 
om Sigurd Fofnersbane etc. In his visit to the Faroes 
in 18478, Hammershaimb took down the ballad 
from oral recitation at Sumb0. He afterwards 
collated his version carefully with those of Svabo, 
Schr0ter and Lyngbye, and published the result in 
Fteroiske Kv^eder, Vol. i, Copenhagen, 1851. This is 
the version of the ballad translated below. 

Lyngbye points out that Nornagest has become a 
well-known character in modern Faroese legend. We 
certainly note his popularity in the ballads, which 
is no doubt due to his association with Sigurth in 
the original story. In some ballads he appears as a 
companion in arms of the latter and even as a great 
warrior himself. He it is who rides with Sigurth and 
Virgar to meet the giant in Holmgarth (cf. Risin i 
Holmgardum, v. 33), and in Ragnarlikkja (cf. v. 39 ff.) 
"the fierce Nornagest" sails with Sigurth, Brand, 
and Virgar to slay the King of Girtland ; and so too 
in other stories. 

It will be observed that the framework of the story 
differs considerably from that of the Saga, notably 
in the opening and closing scenes. The beginning of 
another story, dealing likewise with an old man, 
has been substituted for the original opening. The 


mention of the boat in verse 40 is perhaps reminiscent 
of some folk-tale; and the story of the leaden casket 
containing the soul of Nornagest which was sunk in 
the lake is an interesting instance of the external soul. 
I have no doubt that it is a reference to some folk-tale, 
but have not yet been able to identify it. Among 
many primitive peoples, who can hardly grasp ab- 
stract ideas, the life or soul of a man is regarded as 
a concrete thing which can be laid aside, and which, 
so long as it remains unharmed, will secure for him 
immortality. There is, for example, a Hindoo story 
of a princess whose soul was believed to be in her 
necklace. One day an astrologer said to her parents : 
"This is no common child; the necklace of gold 
about her neck contains your daughter's soul; let 
it therefore be guarded with the utmost care; for if it 
were taken off and worn by another person, she 
would die 1 ." 

Many similar folk-tales are known from Icelandic 
and Danish sources as well as from many parts of 
Europe and Asia. 

The air to which the following ballad is sung will 
be found on pp. 117, 118 of Thuren's Folkesangen 

1 For many interesting parallels, cf. Frazer, Golden Bough 
(London, 1911-1915), "Balder the Beautiful," ch. n. 





Nornagests Rima 

Taken down by A. P. BERGGEEN. 

Eitt er fr^Sift um Nor - na gest, Lat tser ra - 5a 

gerS i van - da. Ti likum g6Sum gekk hann naest. 

Ox - ar tolv voru leid - dir a torg, og so fram a 

fri - ftu borg. Gra - ni bar gul - lift af hei - 


1 . A Ballad there is of Nornagest, 
Refrain : Be ready with a plan in trouble! 

In manly virtues among the best. 
Refrain : Every lad should do sol 

2. Twelve oxen were led to the market square, 
And onward thence to a castle fair. 

3. The King he thought to hew them to earth, 
And with courage and joy did he sally forth. 

4. The King he struck such a mighty blow 

That the blood from the wounds did swiftly flow: 


5. All the oxen fell down dead, 

And the axe sank deep that he brandished. 

6. All men praised his princely blow: 

The blood from the wounds did swiftly flow. 

7. A man there came with crutches twain: 
With these he steadied himself amain. 

8. The King to the man full mildly spoke: 

"O why, and O why, dost thou praise not my stroke?" 

9. "O Sire, thou struckest full manfully; 
But I saw a finer stroke in days gone by. 

10. "Of Sigurth's deeds hast thou heard the worth, 
The mightiest champion of men on earth ! 

1 1. "Leaf and grove did tremble and quake 
When Sigurth clove in sunder the snake. 

12. "This may you tell of Sigurth the bold: 
'He was mightiest of all men in days of old.' 

13. "This can I tell of Sigurth's fame: 
'I know no hero with eyes so keen.' 

14. "Leaf and grove did tremble and shake 
When Sigurth clove in sunder the snake. 

15. "A noble man was Hogni, I ween, 
Full well did I know his ugly mien. 

1 6. " Rich, brave and gentle was Gunnar enow, 
Wise too, and Gunnhild was like him, I trow. 

17. "Wise too, and Gunnhild was like him, I trow. 
Of heroes like him are there all too few. 

1 8. "My father he had a homestead fair: 
Herds of cattle were pastured there. 

19. "And horses I tended as I sat in the wood. 
And blithest my heart when the weather was good ! 

20. "One and all in their saddles they ride, 
Childe Sigurth, and Hogni, and Gunnar beside. 


22. "Over the mire-pit rode all and one. 
I was a lad, and I looked thereon. 

23. "First sprang Gunnar's horse forthright. 
Gunnar measured his leap aright. 

24. "Hogni's horse sprang after then. 
Fast stuck Grani in the fen. 

25. "The last to spring was Sigurth's steed. 
Sigurth had given him so heavy a feed ! 

26. "Grani floundered in the fen: 

His saddle girth brake in pieces twain. 

27. " Down from their saddles each did glide, 
Childe Sigurth, and Hogni, and Gunnar beside. 

28. "They dragged at the noble steed amain; 
But Sigurth pulled hardest the bridal rein. 

29. "'Oft have I leapt o'er the pit aright 
By day and eke in the murky night. 

30. '"O Guest, a service of thee I pray: 
Wash from my courser the mire away. 

31. "'The saddle buckle which broke 'neath me 
The same, O Guest, will I give to thee.' 

32. "Forth they rode to a river then. 
No-one was there to look to the men. 

33. "I washed his poitrail and breast for him, 
His thigh, his leg, and each long limb. 

34. "The noble courser I made full clean. 
Then Sigurth took me for his horse-swain. 

35. "So rode we forth to Fafnir's lair. 

Like the sun's own beams did the gold shine there. 

36. "From Sigurth's steed did I draw a hair, 
Of wondrous length and beyond compare. 

37. "The hair in the tail of Grani hung, 
Well-nigh a foot and a fathom long. 


38. "Well-nigh a foot and a fathom in height, 
And it shone and gleamed like silver so bright. 

39. "In days gone by, full far have I strayed, 
Nor found I my candle and span of days." 

40. The King he gave him pole and boat, 
And directed the old man on his road. 

41. "In the Land of the Franks is a lake broad and wide 
Where thy candle and span of days do bide." 

42. Long and long dived the courteous man 
Before he came his candle upon. 

43. Kornar the priest baptised him anon. 
When the candle burnt out his life was done. 

44. When the light in the lanthorn had burnt away, 
Refrain: Be ready with a plan in trouble! 

Then ended too his own life's day. 
Refrain: Every- lad should do so! 


The following ballad was taken down by Ham- 
mershaimb from oral recitation in Westmanhavn 
in 1846, and published at Copenhagen in 1855 in 
Fteroiske Kv^der^ Vol. n. He took down a second 
version of the same ballad, but consisting of only 
nineteen stanzas, at Sumb0 in 1847, which he pub- 
lished in the Antiquarisk Tidsskrift, 1849-50. This 
second version differs slightly from the one given in 
our text. In it Arngrim is said to have twelve sons 
of whom Angantyr was the youngest. Hjalmar is 
not expressly stated to have been a brother of 
Angantyr, as he is in our version and in the Danish 
ballad Angelfyr and Helmer the Warrior (cf. p. 1 88 ff.). 
Moreover Angantyr is the first to learn of the 
franklin's daughter, and he forthwith builds a ship 
and sails away alone; and it is only later that Hjalmar 
also hears of her and sets sail, thus reaching the spot 
when Angantyr has already landed. More colour 
is given to the maiden's choice in the second version 
by the additional detail that 

Hjalmar leapt so lightly to land, 
He made no footprint on the sand. 

This, however, it is to be noted, is the regular 
formula by which the landing of the hero is described 
in the Faroese ballads. Cf. Lokka Tdttur^ v. 78. 


It is the opinion of Hammershaimb that this 
ballad was the original from which the longer ballad 
of Arngrirrf s Sons sprang. This would seem to be 
supported by Heusler's contention that The Long 
Ballad of the Marsk Stig Cycle was composed by 
welding together several shorter ballads 1 ; and cer- 
tainly the Ballad of Arngrim's Sons suggests that at 
least two distinct ballads have been run into one, 
especially when we compare the two varying versions 
of Svabo and Hammershaimb. Against this, how- 
ever, we have to place the fact that something of the 
same invertebrate impression is given by the Saga 
of Hervb'r and Heithrek, on which these ballads are 
ultimately based. Even if we assume a composite 
origin for the Ballad of Arngrim's Sons, there is 
no evidence that any portion of it was based on 
the short Ballad of Hjalmar and Angantyr, while 
the difference of metre diminishes the probability 
of a connection. 

The air and refrain to this ballad are given on 
p. 124 of Thuren's Folkesangen paa F^er&erne. 

1 Lied und Epos (Dortmund, 1905), p. 41 ff. 




The Ballad of Hjalmar and Angantyi 


b b 



B6ndin undir eikini byr, Vael bornir 

Refrain 2 

menn - Eigir hann ellivu synir dyr ! - Arngrims 

synir a Bjarn - londum ber - jast viS Sams oy. 


1. A man lived up in a high oak-tree, 
Refrain: Ye well-born men! 

Eleven warlike sons had he. 
Refrain: Arngrim's Sons from Africa^ 

They fought ', they fought on Sams?. 

2. He had eleven sons so dear, 

The champions Hjalmar and Angantyr. 

3. A ship, a ship did these warriors man, 

And swift 'fore the wind was the course she ran. 

4. They hoisted their sail to the mast so high: 
They had faith in their strength and their valiancy. 

5. Their anchor they cast in the white, white sand. 
Hjalmar hastily sprang to the land. 


6. Their anchor they cast in the white, white sand. 
And Angantyr eagerly sprang on the strand. 

7. Angantyr eagerly sprang on the strand. 
Up to his knees he sank in the sand. 

8. " I drew my hose from my legs so bare 
To hide the sand from my lady fair!" 

9. In the garden they busked them in cloaks of skin, 
And so went up to the franklin sitting there within. 

10. "Here sittest thou, franklin, drinking thy wine: 
I beg that thy daughter so fair may be mine!" 

1 1. When Hjalmar stood before the board, 
Angantyr straight took up the word. 

12. "Here sittest thou, franklin, drinking thy wine: 
I beg that thy daughter so fair may be mine!" 

13. In sorry plight was the franklin then, 

For there at the board stood two mighty men. 

14. "No choice so hard will I ever make; 
The maiden herself must choose her mate." 

15. "No choice so hard shall be made by thee: 
The warrior Hjalmar shall wed with me. 

1 6. "With Hjalmar the Brave would I wedded be, 
Who is so lovely and fair to see." 

17. "O franklin! Lend me a trusty blade, 

We two must fight for the hand of the maid." 

1 8. "O franklin! Lend me a sharp penknife: 
Each of us surely must lose his life." 

19. They fought their way forth of the hall. 
They bellowed louder than any troll. 

20. Till they reached a river they fought amain, 
Down on their knees and then up again. 

21. Down on their knees and then up again 
Refrain: Ye well-born men! 

Till stiff and dead lay those champions twain. 
Refrain: Arngrini's Sons from Africa, 

They fought, they fought on Samstf. 




Four different versions of the Danish ballad of 
Angelfyr and Helmer the Warrior are given by 
Grundtvig in Danmarks Gamle Folkeviser, Vol. i, 
number 1 9 (Copenhagen, 1853). Two of these, closely 
allied, are found in a MS. written in the sixteenth 
century 1 . The version which Grundtvig has called^ 
is the one adopted for translation below. 

An interesting study in ballad composition is 
afforded by a comparison of this Danish ballad with 
the Faroese ballads of the Sons of Arngrim. According 
to Axel Olrik 2 the Danish ballad is founded on the 
Saga of Hervb'r and Heithrek. That the ultimate source 
of all the ballads of the Sons of Arngrim was the Saga 
there can be no doubt. But whether the Danish 
ballad is derived directly from the Saga or through 
some intermediate stage, Icelandic, Faroese or Danish, 
is problematical. A definite relationship between the 
Danish and the Faroese ballads would seem to be 
shown by several common features of the story 
which do not occur in the Saga itself, as well as by 
some striking verbal resemblances which have no 
foundation in the prose narrative. 

1 Cf. Grundtvig, Danmarks Gamle Folkeviser, Vol. i, p. 252. 
Also Axel Olrik, Danske Folkeviser i Udvalg, Vol. i, p. 263. 

2 Cf. Olrik, op. cit.y p. 78. For general information on the Danish 
ballads the reader is referred to Steenstrup, Fore Folkeviser (Copen- 
hagen, 1891), translated by E. G. Cox (Boston, 1914). 


Thus on the one hand both in the Danish and in 
the Faroese ballads translated above, Hjalmar and 
Angantyr are described as brothers 1 , whereas in the 
Saga they are not related. On the other hand the 
Danish and the two Faroese ballads are almost 
identical in their description of Angantyr and all his 
kin as "vile trolls," though Version A given by 
Grundtvig describes him in accordance with the Saga 
as a "half-troll" (i.e. on his mother's side). 

Other close verbal parallels, surely indicative of 
cross-relationship or of a common source, are afforded 
by a comparison of certain passages of the Danish 
ballad and the Faroese Ballad of Arngrin? s Sons. Thus 
v. 5 of the Danish is practically identical with v. 74 of 
the Faroese, and we may compare v. 9 of the shorter 
Ballad of Hjalmar and Angantyr. May we also com- 
pare v. 6 of the Danish with v. 79 of the longer 
Faroese ballad ; v. 8 with v. 8 I ; v. I o with v. 84 ; 
v. 14 with v. 79? Conventional as many of these 
phrases are, the identity can 'hardly be accidental 
in all cases. 

The precise nature of the relationship between the 
two versions is not so clear. We may note, however, 
some of the features contained in the Danish version 
of the story which are not found in the Saga. In the 
first place neither Arngrim nor Sams0 are mentioned, 
the names Offue and Uthiss-kier being substituted 
for them 2 ; secondly, except in the refrain there is no 
mention of the sea or a voyage in the Danish ballad. 
Helmer bids them "saddle his steed," and both he 

1 See, however, the Introduction to the Ballad of Hjalmar and 
Angantyr, p. 182 above. 

2 So MS. A\ but cf. be]ow v. I and note. 

1 88 BALLADS [PT. 

and Angelfyr ride to Upsala. Finally after v. 1 1 of 
our text, the Danish ballad differs entirely from the 
Faroese version of the story and also from that of the 
Saga of Hervor and Heithrek. Offue's revenge is 
peculiar to the Danish, and here too no mention is 
made of Ingibjorg's death. 

From all these changes, and especially from the 
transference of names and places, it is obvious that 
the Danish version of the story is considerably more 
remote from the Saga than either of the two Faroese 
versions. At the same time, the absence of any 
reference to Sams0 or any other Danish locality 
renders it highly improbable that its divergences are 
due to any (Danish) local tradition independent of 
the Saga. 

On the whole it would seem that at an early date 
(fifteenth or early sixteenth century?) a ballad had 
been made from this portion of the Saga, either 
directly or through the intermediate stage of a lost 
rhymed version; and that it was composed in the 
Faroes themselves or in Iceland or some other region 
the Orkneys and Shetlands are a possible sugges- 
tion and acquired by the Danes not very long 


i. Offue he dwelt in Uthiss- Icier, 

Both rich and bold was he; 
And when two sons were born to him, 
He vowed they should warriors be. 


Refrain: But the tempest from the North 
Lashes dark and troubled billows 
On the gleaming waste of sand 1 . 

2. It was Young Helmer the Warrior; 

He bade them saddle his steed: 
" I Ride to Upsala this day, 
The King's daughter to wed." 

3. Then up and spake Young Angelfyr, 

Where he stood in scarlet so red : 
"O never shalt thou this eventide 
To the lovely maid be wed!" 

4. Then up and spake Young Angelfyr: 

He bade them saddle his steed : 
u I will gallop today to Upsala, 
Till the earth is rei\t with my speed." 

5. Out of doors in the castle-court 

They busked them in cloaks of skin, 
And so went they to the hall gallery, 
Where the King of Upsala sat within. 

6. In came Young Helmer the Warrior, 

And stood before the board; 
"O King, I pray thee, give me thy daughter, 
I wait thy friendly word." 

7. In there came Young Angelfyr, 

And gold shone on his hand : 
" O King, I pray thee, give me thy daughter 
And quit thee from this thy land." 

8. Long and long stood the King of Upsala, 

And pondered silently, 
How those heroes who stood before him 
He might answer fittingly. 

1 The translation of the refrain is somewhat free; but cf. Olrik, 
D. F. i U., p. 78. Extreme condensation is a feature of all Faroese 
and Danish ballad refrains which makes a literal translation into 
English practically impossible. 


9. It was the King of Upsala, 

And he spake this word theretil : 

" I give my daughter to that man only 

Who has won him her goodwill." 

10. "I give thee thanks, my father dear, 

That the choice thou lay'st on me; 
I give myself to Young Helmer the Warrior, 
For a noble man is he. 

11. "I will not wed me to Angelfyr: 

For he is half a troll; 
So is his father, and so his mother, 
And so are his kinsfolk all." 

1 2. Then up and spake Young Angelfyr 

As he stood and pondered there: 
"We both will take us forth to the courtyard, 
And fight for the maiden fair." 

13. It was the King of Upsala, 

And answered he forthright: 

" O the swords they be keen, and the lads they be bold, 
And may measure them well in a fight." 

14. Then up and rose Young Angelfyr 

Where he his sword out drew; 
And up rose Young Helmer the Warrior, 
Whom he to the earth did hew. 

1 5. Offue he stands in Uthiss-kier 

And far and wide looks he: 
"O somewhere is Helmer suffering pain, 
For I feel such woe in the heart of me." 

1 6. Offue he stands in Uthiss-kier 

And looks o'er the wide, wide heath : 
U O what can be harming my two sons today, 
And why are they both so wroth?" 

17. It was Offue in Uthiss-kier; 

He sprang on his red-roan steed. 
And so came he to the King's courtyard, 
Ere Helmer was dead indeed. 


1 8. "O hearken, hearken, Young Helmer, 

Beloved son of mine: 
Thy noble sword from out thy hands 
Why didst thou list to tine?" 

19. "Eight are the mortal wounds I bear, 

They, are both deep and sore; 
And had I only one of them 
I could not live an hour." 

20. O it was Offue in Uthiss-kier, 

And he his sword out drew; 
And O it was Young Angelfyr 
Whom down to the earth he slew. 

21. "Lie thou there, Young Angelfyr, 

And bleed till thou art dead; 
So woeful was I in my heart 
When I saw how Helmer bled. 

22. "Lie thou there, Young Angelfyr, 

And lose thy life-blood all. 
So woeful was I in my heart 
When I saw Young Helmer fall." 

Refrain: But the tempest from the North 
Lashes dark and troubled billows 
On the gleaming waste of sand. 

In MS. B of the Ballad of Angelfyr etc., vv. iii 
correspond pretty closely to MS. A\ but vu. 1218 
are different : 

1 2. Alff he stood in Odderskier, 

And listened over the field; 
Then could he hear so far away 
Where his sons their swords did wield. 

13. Up then rose Alff in Odderskier; 

He sprang on his red-roan steed; 
And came he so to Upsala 
Ere both the warriors were dead. 

192 BALLADS [PT. n 

14. "O hearken, hearken, Young Helmer, 

Beloved son of mine: 
Why does the life blood from thy head 
In streams come running down?*' 

15. It was Young Helmer the Warrior, 

And his father answered he: 
"My brother Angelfyr could not have the maid, 
And therefore he wrought this ill to me. 

1 6. "My body is pierced with fifteen wounds, 

All tainted with poison full sore; 
And had I only one of them 
I could not live an hour." 

17. It was AlfF in Odderskier, 

And an oak he uprooted; 
He struck with the oak Young Angelfyr, 
Till he lay on the earth stone dead. 

1 8. Now both these warriors are lying dead, 

And dead lie they in their grave; 
And the King he is ready to give his daughter 
To the man whom he himself will have. 


The Ballad of Arngriw? s Sons was first taken down 
by Svabo towards the close of the eighteenth century. 
He never published it, but his MS. (in. 9) is pre- 
served in the Royal Library at Copenhagen. In 
1848 V. U. Hammershaimb took the ballad down 
again from oral recitation on Sand0 and published 
it in the Antiquarisk Tidsskrift, 18491851 (Copen- 
hagen, 1852). He had, however, consulted Svabo's 
version, for he says in the prefatory note to the 

It is entirely confused in Svabo's version in the Royal 
Library. I have therefore kept to the version which I got on 
Sand0, which in the main points agrees with the Saga. Only 
in the conclusion and two other passages have I followed 
Svabo's version. 

By 1855, however, it would seem that his view 
had changed. In his prefatory note to \he-Ballad 
of Arngrin? s Sons, published in Nordiske Oldskrifter, 
vols. 1819, Part II (Copenhagen, 1855), he writes: 

The version given by Svabo is at variance with the Saga 
and has many internal discrepancies arising mainly from the 
fact that Hjalmar and Angantyr are here taken to be brothers, 
as in the Danish ballad. In the Antiquarisk Tidsskrift for 
1849-1851 I published another version which I took down 
in Sand0 in 1 848, and in which I made some use of Svabo's 
version. My version corresponds exactly with the Harvarar 
Saga, but it is open to suspicion from the fact that it 
here forms the second part (thdttr) of Hjalmar s 



of which the first part (The Thdttr of Orvar-Oddr) is clearly 
of later origin; as is shown not only by the language, but also 
by the fact that the whole falls in with Suhm's story, 
"The three friends, Hjalmar, Asbjorn and Orvarodd," etc. 
Many verses of Arngrinfs Sons presuppose a first tdttur 
to the ballad, for example that in which the sick Asbjorn 
complains that he cannot follow his companion to the fight 
on Sams0 J . That the language in the second part is purer and 
older than in the first part is easily explained from the fact 
that the people of Sand0 have utilised the older Faroese version 
which was taken down by Svabo. They only needed to 
transpose the verses and to make a very few changes to get 
the whole readjusted according to the. Saga or Suhm's 
story. The verses which the Sand0 version has in common 
with Svabo's could therefore be used for purposes of com- 
parison. There are thus weighty reasons for giving preference 
to Svabo's version, in spite of all its imperfections. 

Of the first part of Hjalmar's Kv<edi I have un- 
fortunately been unable to obtain a copy, though it 
is no doubt accessible at Copenhagen, as it is men- 
tioned as number 60 ('Hjalmar' } s Kvtedi, 2 taettir: 
#, Orvaroddur, ^, Arngrim's Sinir') in a list of 
Faroese ballads taken down in the Faroes by Ham- 
mershaimb for the archaeological archives of the 
Royal Old Norse Text Society 2 . Hammer shaimb 
says 3 , however, that the first part "deals with 
Hjalmar' s youth, the counsel given him by his father 
when he leaves home, how he is taken into the 
retinue (hird) of the Swedish King, how he dis- 
tinguishes himself by his bravery against the vikings, 

1 Cf. also the introduction of Orvar-Odd in v. 29 of Hammer- 
shaimb's version (Antiq. Tidss., 1849-51, pp. 61-74); also vv. 28, 

33> 58. 

2 Cf. Antiq. Tidss., 1849-1851, p. 28. 

3 /*., p. 58. 


and how he and Asbjorn and Orvarodd swear to be 
foster-brothers .' ' 

The translation which follows is made from Ham- 
mershaimb's second edition of the ballad, published 
in Nordiske Oldskrifter, vols. 18 and 19, Part II 1 
which is in fact Svabo's text; but the refrain of his 
first version has been adopted. 

It will be noticed that the ballad differs in many 
points from the Saga of Hervb'r and Heithrek. In the 
first place, according to the ballad, it is Arngrim and 
not Angantyr who is buried with the sword Tyrfing 2 . 
Secondly, Hervik (the Hervor of the Saga) is 
described as a daughter of Arngrim and a sister of 
Angantyr. Hjalmar also is a brother of Hervik and 
of Angantyr according to the ballad, and actually 
accompanies Hervik on her quest of the sword 
Tyrfing, which according to the ballad took place 
before the fight on Sams0. Finally, Arngrim is said 
to have been killed by Orvarodd, and Hervik 
accordingly kills Orvarodd in retaliation. Another 
'Young Odd' appears later as Hjalmar's companion 
in the true place of Orvarodd. 

Thus we see that, as commonly happens in popular 
poetry, complex situations have become simplified, 
and, where simplification has not taken place, the 
people and events have become confused 3 . Both in 
the shorter Faroese ballad of Hjalmar and Angantyr^ 
and in the Danish ballad of Angelfyr and Helmer the 

1 Copenhagen, 1855. 

2 So Svabo's version ; the Sand0 version of Hammershaimb's first 
edition, however, preserves Angantyr here. 

3 A still more striking instance of the latter development will be 
found in the Gdtu Rima (see p. 213 f. below) especially v. 22. 



Warrior ^ the simplification has proceeded even farther, 
and a still more striking instance of rigorous simpli- 
fication is to be found in the Ballad of Nornagest. 

No Rimur dealing with Arngrim's Sons have been 
published, and I have not been able to ascertain 
whether any exist, though a passing mention is made 
of them in verse 74 of the satirical poem Skttharim4\ 
probably composed in the fifteenth century by Einar 
or Sigurftur Fostri. A priori it would seem probable 
that the ballads are derived from compositions of 
this kind rather than from the Saga direct. But it 
would be unwise to hazard even a guess as to the 
balance of probability without detailed knowledge of 
the relative circulation, distribution and popularity 
of the Sagas and the Rimur respectively. 

The air to which the following ballad is sung on 
the Faroes has been transcribed and printed by 
Thuren in Folkesangen paa F<erfierne, pp. 132, 133. 

The Ballad of Arngrim's Sons 










i-Jtr f 

rt-r r-| 










H fcfc 


Arngrimur eigir eina borg, hon stendur a 

ellivu eigir hann synir saer og t6lvti er 


hCgum fjalli, Nu fellur ri man yvir tann 
riddarin snjalli. 

1 Carmina Scaldica (a selection of Norwegian and Icelandic Scaldic 
poetry} by Finnur Jonsson, Copenhagen, 1913. 




\ 1 1 


bar liggur ein bon - di 


deyflur i dskkari jord ! Nu fellur ri - man. 

Variations of Refrain of 
The Ballad of Arngrim s Sons 












I . High on a lofty mountain 

Does Arngrim his castle hold; 
He has eleven noble sons, 

And his twelfth is a champion bold. 
Refrain : Noble men are sailing now from Norway^ 
And a fair breeze bears them o y er the wave. 

2 He has eleven noble sons. 

Each skilled to wield his brand; 
And mightiest of all is Angantyr 
Who comes from Bjarnalana. 


3. He has eleven noble sons, 

Beneath oak-trees live they; 
And Angantyr lives with them there 
And a warrior bold is he. 

4. Arngrim and the Earl's lady, 

Children so fine had they 
Their daughter was named Hervik, 
Who governed land and fee. 

5. This maiden was named Hervik, 

Tore all men I declare, 
She tilted in the tourney 
When the lads were playing there. 

6. She tilted in the tourney 

Among the lads so strong. 
Then blood was up and blood was shed 
Ere she had played her long. 

7. Down then sat the lads there; 

Angry were they each one. 
"Better than fighting us so fiercely 
Go Venge thy father anon ! " 

8. Water she cast on her armour; 

She list no longer to fight, 
But went and stood before her mother, 
With cheeks all red and white. 

9. "O hearken, hearken my Mother dear, 

The truth from thee would I know. 
Was my father slain in battle 
Or did he die on straw? " 

10. "No truer tale can I tell to thee, 

My daughter whom I love: 
He fell before the bold Orvarodd 
To the South in Isan's Grove. 

11. "I can tell thee no truer, my daughter dear 

Than I tell as here I stand; 

He fell before the bold Orvarodd 

To the South in Isan's Land." 


1 2. She took her quickly to a chest 

Which guarded gold and fee; 
She drew a shirt from out the chest, 
And flung it on Hervik's knee. 

1 3. She drew a shirt from out the chest, 

All bloodstained where it had lain. 
" Here may'st thou see the very same shirt 
In which thy father was slain." 

14. Up then rose Hervik the Earl's daughter 

And manned ship hastily; 
Its cables were of shining gold, 
All twisted cunningly. 

15. Up then rose Hervik the Earl's daughter, 

And decked her ship so fine, 
And bade them store within the hold 
Both ale and costly wine. 

1 6. Tarred were the masts, 

And black was the ship in hue; 
The masthead was of the red, red gold, 
And the sun shone on it too. 

17. Tarred were the masts; 

The ship it was quite new; 
The golden weather-cock spun aloft, 
And shone amid Heaven's own blue. 

1 8. Tarred were the masts, 

The beams scored wondrously; 
Stem and stern were of red, red gold, 
And so was the sail on high. 

19. All in the middle of the ship's deck 

The colour shone so fair 
Where Hervik, the Earl's daughter, 
Sat on the platform there. 

20. She hoists aloft her silken sail, 

Striped gold on a scarlet ground, 
Nor ever once does she strike it again 
Till she comes to Isan's Land. 


2 1 . She hoists aloft her silken sail, 

(The like will scarce be found) 
Nor ever once does she strike it again 
Till she comes to Isan's ground. 

22. Forth when Hervik's frigate 

Touched the fair land, 
Cast she forth her anchor 
Into the white, white sand. 

23. Cast she down her anchor 

Into the white, white sand; 
And the first was Hervik the Earl's daughter 
To spring with her foot to land. 

24. The first was Hervik the Earl's daughter 

To spring with her foot to land, 
And with her Hjahnar her brother 
Close at her right hand. 

25. There a huntsman met her; 

He had hunted herd and fee: 
" O why art thou so sorrowful, 
As a troll had been hunting thee?" 

26. Then up stood Hervik the Earl's daughter, 

Her good sword out she drew, 
And with it she clove the huntsman 
And him in sunder slew 

27. Three cross roads are bending, 

And one can she descry; 
Hervik has gone straight forth to the barrow 
Wherein her father doth lie. 

28. Hervik has gone straight forth to the barrow 

Where her father lies dead and cold. 
Little recks she of fear or favour, 
Though quake now fell and fold. 

29. Then up and spake the voice of Arngrim, 

And these words first spake he : 
" O where are my eleven sons gone, 
Since daughters are visiting me?" 


30. " I pass not for my eleven brothers, 

Or where they share their fee. 
No treasure have I, save only Hjalmar, 
Hither brought with me. 

31. "O haste thee, haste thee, my noble Father 

The good brand to give me; 
Or shall I set fire here to this barrow, 
And burn it over thee?" 

32. Full woe was the champion Arngrim 

That she should wreck his grave. 
He seized Tyrfing in both his hands 
And to his daughter gave. 

33. He gave to her the sword then 

Was wonderfully made. 
The length of it was eighteen ells, 
And poisoned was its blade. 

34. He gave to her the sword then 

Was wonderfully made. 
No leechcraft could avail the man 
Was wounded by its blade. 

35. All in the middle of the garden 

She clad her in cloak of skin; 
She busked her in a cloak of fur, 
And entered the high hall within. 

36. She busked her in her cloak of fur 

And entered the high hall belive, 
Where Orvarodd sat before the board 
With a hundred men and five. 

37. "O welcome, welcome, Hervik, 

Hither now to me 

Mead or wine shalt thou have to drink 
As liefest is to thee." 

38. "O little to me is thy mead, Orvarodd, 

And little to me thy wine. 
Today I have come to thy high hall, 
And a different errand is mine. 


39. "O little to me is thy mead, Orvarodd, 

And little to me thy beer; 
For a different errand did I busk me 
When I left my home to come here. 

40. " I busked me and came from Sweden 

To fight in this thy land. 
Stand up ! Stand up ! Thou bold Orvarodd, 
Stand up, and arm thy band ! " 

41. It fell full early on a morning tide, 

Before the sun rose high, 
Bold Orvarodd had a hundred men and twelve 
Accoutred royally. 

42. Bold Orvarodd had a hundred men and twelve 

Accoutred royally. 

Then up rose Hervik, the Earl's daughter, 
To meet them gallantly. 

43. Up then rose Hervik, the Earl's daughter, 

So doughty in the fight. 
She blew a blast on her golden, horn, 
And struck to left and right. 

44. It was Hervik, the Earl's daughter, 

So gallantly she rode; 
She clove to the shoulders every knight 
Who forth against her strode. 

45. She clove to the shoulders every knight 

Who forth against her strode, 
Till only Orvarodd and his two companions 
Survivors of the army stood. 

46. Under the castle gateway 

The King crept fearfully. 
"Now mercy, mercy, sweet Hervik, 
I pray thou'lt give to me ! " 

47. "Just so much is the sweet mercy 

Thou now shalt get of me 
As thou gavest to my noble Father 
When thou slew'st him felonly!" 


48. "Just so much is the sweet mercy 

Thou now shalt win of me 
As thou gavest to my noble Father 
When thou slew'st him cruelly!" 

49. That was Hervik, the Earl's daughter, 

To draw her sword was fain. 
She has slain the warrior Orvarodd 
And cut him in pieces twain. 

50. She has slain the warrior Orvarodd 

And cut him in pieces twain. 
And all his men so brave and true 
She has heaped on his corse amain. 

51. Up then rose Hervik, the Earl's daughter; 

Through the greenwood gan she ride; 
But hawk or hound made never a cry 
In the greenwood by her side. 

52. She hoists aloft her silken sail, 

Striped gold on a scarlet ground; 
Nor ever once does she strike it again 
Till she reaches far Uppland. 

53. Forth when Hervik's frigate 

Touched the fair land, 
Cast she forth her anchor 
Into the white, white sand. 

54. Cast she forth her anchor 

Into the white, white sand; 
And forthwith her brother Angantyr 
Came riding down the strand. 

55. She gave to him the sword then 

Was wonderfully made. 
The length of it was eighteen ells, 
And poisoned was its blade. 

56. She gave to him the sword then 

Was wonderfully made. 
No leechcraft could avail the man 
Was wounded by its blade. 


57. Angantyr sits in his high seat, 

And with his men spake he! 
" O where will I get a make to myself? 
This thought has been long with me." 

58. One and all they hung their heads, 

And never a word spake they, 
Save Hjalmar his brother, and better were it 
He had held his peace that day. 

59. <c I can no truer tell thee, 

But and thou list to hear: 
The King of Upsala has a daughter, 
And she is passing fair. 

60. " The King of Upsala has a daughter 

As lovely as the sun. 
Her cheeks they are as red and white 

As blood on driven snow. 
6.1. "The King of Upsala has a daughter: 

Of many is her fame the word. 
Her throne it is of the red, red gold, 

And stands at the King's own board." 

62. "O gin the maiden be so fair, 

And gin she be so fine, 
I swear an oath, though ill betide, 
To call that maiden mine. 

63. "O long and long will the journey be 

O'er breaker but and billow; 
But I go forth to Upsala, Hjalmar, 
And thou, my brother, must follow." 

64. Then up spake Hjalmar the warrior, 

And straightway answered he: 
"The bird feels joy when he spies a corpse, 
And so do I follow thee ! " 

65. Up then rose him Angantyr, 

And manned ship hastily. 
Its cables were of shining gold 
All twisted cunningly. 


66. Up then rose him Angantyr, 

And decked his ship so fine, 
And bade them store within the hold 
Both ale and costly wine. 

67. He hoists aloft his silken sail, 

Striped gold on a scarlet ground 
Nor ever once does he strike it again 
Till he comes to Uppsaland. 

68. Forth then when his frigate 

Touched the fair land, 
Cast he down his anchor 
Into the white, white sand. 

69. Cast he down his anchor 

Into the white, white sand. 
And Angantyr was the first to light 
With his foot to land. 

70. Angantyr was the first to light 

With his foot to land. 
And by him Hjalmar his brother, 
Close at his right hand. 

71. By him Hjalmar his brother 

Close at his right hand; 
Truly is it told to me 

He sank to his knees in sand. 

72. Up they went from the sea-shore, 

Those men of wealth and worth ; 
The rollers brake, and the earth it shook 
As they set their ships in berth. 

73. Up they went from the sea-shore. 

In their clothes of scarlet so fair; 
Their helmets were of burnished gold, 
And no man did they fear. 

74. All in the middle of the garden 

They clad them in cloaks of skin; 
They busked them in their cloaks of fur 
And entered the high hall within. 


75. They busked them in their cloaks of fur 

And entered the high hall belive, 
Where the King of Uppland sat at the board 
With a hundred men and five. 

76. Hjalmar went into the high hall 

With silk embroidered hood. 
His cheeks were red as lobster's claws. 
His eyes were like the dove. 

77. Angantyr has do'en him to the high hall, 

'Twas the custom in days gone by; 
And all in a word did he hail the King 
And ask for the maid truly. 

7-8. Angantyr stands on the hall floor, 

Offers him greeting there; 
"Now hail be to thee, bold King of Uppsaland, 
Give me thy daughter fair!" 

79. Then up and spake the bold Hjalmar, 

Before the broad board he stood: 
"O King, I pray thee, give me thy daughter 
Who is so fair and good." 

80. Up then rose the bold Hjalmar, 

Before the broad board sat he: 
U O King, I pray thee, give me thy daughter 
Who is so wise and fair to see." 

81. Long in sorrow sat the King 

And silently pondered. 

What he should answer the two fierce warriors, 
Who stood before the board. 

82. Up then rose the King of Uppsaland; 

Angry and wroth was he: 
"My lady daughter shall come to the hall 
And for herself reply." 

83. They have led his daughter to the hall, 

Attended fittingly; 

And Hjalmar J s face grew red and pale 
As in the high-seat sat he. 


84. "Now thanks and thanks to my noble father 

Who gave this choice to me. 
Hjalmar the champion from Uppland, 
He shall my husband be. 

85. "I will not wed me to Angantyr: 

He is so vile a troll; 
So is his father and so his mother, 
And so are his kinsfolk all." 

86. "Come forth, come forth, thou bold Hjalmar 

For ne'er so brief a tide. 
To battle on an island make thee bowne; 
She shall not be thy bride." 

87 Then up and answered Odd the Young: 

" Once more we are fighting here. 
You shall go against Arngrim's Sons, 
And I against Angantyr." 

88. "We two, Angantyr and I, 

Shall fight with mighty strife; 
I would not that lady Ingibjorg hear 
That I sought to flee for my life. 

89. "We two, Angantyr and I, 

Shall meet in a mighty gripe, 
And long will lady Ingibjorg wait 

Ere she hear that I shrank for my life." 

90. Out then spake the Young Odd, 

And pondered heavily; 
" O gin thou go'est against Angantyr, 
Thou choosest thy death truly." 

9 1 . All the sons of Arngrim 

Rode up the river shore 
A-tightening of their shield-straps 
Till they could tighten them no more. 

92. All the sons of Arngrim 

Rode through the plain so green; 
A league and a league you could hear on the stones 
The clang of their spears so keen. 


93. All the sons of Arngrim, 

Angry were they in mood. 
Little recked they for weapons, 
But tore up clubs of stout oakwood. 

94. All the sons of Arngrim 

Rode up the river strand. 
It is the young Odd will lose his life, 
For Hjalmar is not at hand. 

95. Odd rode against the Sons of Arngrim, 

His noble weapons proved he so, 
And he slew all the eleven brothers 
Yet never dealt he a second blow. 

96. Angantyr and the bold Hjalmar 

On the island combated. 
All their followers who manned the ship 
Are lying now stone dead. 

97. Hjalmar then struck Angantyr, 

So lay he at his feet. 
"O Hjalmar, give me now a drink, 
For it comforts the meanest wight." 

98. u A drink from out my drinking horn 

I give thee willingly; 
But hearken, Angantyr my brother, 
Today have I surely conquered thee." 

99. O he held the horn before his lips, 

He the noble warrior, 
And O it was the heathen dog 
Who stabbed him under the helmet there. 

100. It was the warrior Hjalmar, 

He drew his sword amain; 
He has cleft his brother Angantyr 
And cut him in pieces twain. 

101. Odd came home at eventide 

A-riding on the strand, 
And saw where Hjalmar had sat him there, 
Marred by the poisoned brand, 

K. 14 


1 02. Odd came home at eventide, 

Where Hjalmar leant his back on a stone; 
" O why art thou so wondrous pale, 

And what has brought thee to make such moan ? 

103. " My corslet he has pierced, 

He has scathed my skin so white; 
The poison smeared upon the blade 
My heart will surely smite." 

104. "Thou didst put thy faith in thy corslet, 

All made of shining steel; 
But here stand I in my shirt only, 
And yet no wound I feel. 

105. "Thou didst put thy trust in thy corslet, 

All made of silver bright; 
But here stand I in my shirt only, 
And got no wound in the fight. 

1 06. "Thou did'st put thy trust in thy corslet, 

All made of silver white; 
But here stand I in my shirt only 
Which sword could never bite." 

107. Then up and spake the Warrior Hjalmar. 

The first word he did say 
Was " Hearken and hearken now Young Odd, 
And bear me hence away." 

1 08. Then up and answered the Young Odd, 

He gazed on the rocky ravine: 
"This fight, O Hjalmar, if thou list to hear 
Has gone as I had foreseen." 

109. He drew the gold ring from his arm; 

Speech could he utter still; 
Bade carry it to the lady Ingibjorg, 
And bade him fare him well 


no. He drew the gold ring from his arm; 

All floating was he in blood. 

He sent it to the lady Ingibjorg, 

That maid so fair and good. 

in. She died of grief for Hjalmar 

She the noble maid; 
I swear an oath upon my honour 
There lives none of whom the like can be said. 

Refrain : Noble men are sailing now from Norway^ 

And a fair breeze bears them o'er the wave. 



The Gdtu Rima was first taken down in Suder0 by 
a clergyman, Schroter, early in the nineteenth century, 
and is preserved in the archives of the Early Text 
Society in Copenhagen. Unfortunately Schroter was 
only able to obtain the Ballad in a fragmentary form, 
and he has left us only a Danish translation of what 
he found. In his travels on the Faroes in 1 8471 848 
Hammershaimb made strenuous efforts to get the 
entire version, but curiously enough only succeeded 
in getting a version (of course in the original 
Faroese) which corresponds closely in length and 
content with Schroter' s. He published this version 
first in the Antiquarisk Ttdsskrift, 1849-1851, and 
later in F<eroiske Kv<eder, vol. n. (Copenhagen, 1855). 
The translation given below is taken from the ballad 
as printed in F<eroiske Kv^eder. 

That a longer version of this ballad once existed 
is proved by the fact that verse 8 of both Schroter' s 
and Hammershaimb' s versions states that Guest the 
Blind 1 propounds thirty riddles to King Heithrek 
about the same number as are to be found in the Saga, 
though only some six riddles and the answers to 
four others have come down to us. Hammershaimb 
attributed the loss of the others to the fact that the 
ballad is no longer one of those used in the dance. 

1 Presumably a corruption of Gestumblindi. 


He was of opinion that the riddles propounded in the 
Rtma are not the same as those found in the Saga; 
but it is to be noticed that the subjects of the riddles 
are in four cases the same, and in the other cases the 
subjects have the same characteristics, though the 
riddles themselves are not identical. It would there- 
fore seem on the whole that the subjects of the Gdtu 
Rtma were originally identical with those of the Saga, 
but that they have become corrupted and possibly 
confused in the popular mind. 


1 . Guest goes wandering from the hall, 

Silent and blind is he; 
Meets he with an eldern man 
All with hair so grey. 

2. Meets he with an eldern man, 

All with hair so grey; 
"Why art thou so silent, Guest the Blind, 
And wherefore dost thou stray?" 

3. "It is not so wonderful 

Though I of speech am slow; 
For riddles have brought me to an evil pass, 
And I lose my head tomorrow. 

4. " It is not so wonderful 

Though mournful am I and slow; 
For riddles have brought me to an evil pass, 
And I lose my life tomorrow." 

5. " How much of the red, red gold 

Wilt thou give to me, 
If I go in before King Heithrek 
And ask thy riddles for thee?" 

2i 4 BALLADS [PT. 

6. u Twelve marks of the red, red gold 

Will I give to thee, 

If thou wilt go in before King Heithrek, 
And ransom my head for me." 

7. "Go thou into thy courtyard 

And look to thy dwelling, thou, 
While I go in before King Heithrek, 
And ask him riddles now." 

8. "Thirty are the riddles 

And one will I propose... 
(Riddles lost.) 

9. (First two lines lost.) 
Thunder is the red drum 

Which beats over all the world." 

10. "O hearken now, Heithrek my King, 

Where dost thou know the neighbours, 
Both of whom use the same door, 
And neither one knows the other?" 

1 1. "My thought and thy thought, 

No neighbour is one to other; 

Both of them use the same door, 

Yet neither knows the other." 

12. "O hearken now, Heithrek my King, 

Where dost thou know the brothers 
Who roll far away on the outer reefs, 
And have neither fathers nor mothers?" 

13. "The Western flow and the Eastern flow, 

Well may they be called brothers; 
They roll far away on the outer reefs 
And have neither fathers nor mothers." 

14. "O hearken now, Heithrek my King, 

And what can this be now? 
Soft as down and hard as horn, 
And white as glistening snow!" 


15. "Hear thou this now, Guest the Blind; 

This riddle I understand. 
The sea it is both soft and hard, 

And flings white spray upon the land." 

1 6. "O hearken now, Heithrek my King, 

Where does the sapling grow, 
Its root is turned towards high Heaven, 
And its head turned down below?" 

17. "The icicle on the high crags, 

No sapling it is I trow, 
Yet its root is turned towards high heaven, 
And its head turned down below." 

1 8. "O hearken now, Heithrek my King, 

Where does that forest grow, 
It is cut on every holy day, 
And yet there is wood enow?" 

19. "The beard which grows on each man's chin, 

No forest is that I trow, 
Though shaved on every holy day, 
And yet there is wood enow." 

20. "O hearken now, Heithrek my King, 

Where dost thou know the brothers, 
Both of them live in the same hall, 

And have neither fathers nor mothers?" 

21. "Turf clods and brimstones, 

Neither of the twain are brothers. 
Both of them live in the same hall, 

And have neither fathers nor mothers." 

22. "The sow she wanders to her sty, 

She wallows on the green, green earth. 
The boar he grunts and the little pigs squeak, 
And each makes music with his mouth." 

23. "O well do I know thy riddle, 

And well it shall be spoke; 
The hammer is raised in every smithy, 
And falls with even stroke." 

216 BALLADS [PT. n 

24. "O well do I know thy riddle, 

Though thereof no boast make I. 
It is Othin who rides upon his steed, 
By land and eke by sea. 

25. "O well do I know thy riddle. 

Yet of wisdom I make no display. 
Othin he rides upon his steed 
By night and eke by day." 

26. Othin has turned into a wild fowl, 

And flown out from the hall; 
And therein King Heithrek has been burnt, 
He and his nobles all. 

27. Othin has turned into a wild fowl, 

And has flown far out to sea; 
He has burnt King Heithrek in his hall, 
And all his company. 


This ballad has been discussed above, pp. 39 and 
1 64 f. It was taken down by George Low in the 
course of a visit made by him to the island of Foula 
in the Shetlands in 1774. He was entirely ignorant 
of the language, and had apparently no idea as to 
the meaning of the actual words, though the general 
drift of the ballad was explained to him by the 
islander, William Henry, from whom he obtained it 
(cf. p. 164). As very few remains of the dialect have 
been preserved, apart from the ballad, the inter- 
pretation presents great difficulties. The following 
translation of the first twelve stanzas is made from 
the corrected text given by Dr M. Haegstad in his 
edition of the Hildina contained in Skrifter udgivne 
af Videnskabsselskabet i Christiama^ 1900 (Historisk- 
Filosofiske Klasse, n). 


1. It was the Earl from Orkney, 

And counsel of his kin sought he. 
Whether he should the maiden 
Free from her misery. 

2. "If thou free the maid from her gleaming hall, 

O kinsman dear of mine, 
Ever while the world shall last 
Thy glory still shall shine." 


3. Home came the king, 

Home from the ship's levy 
The lady Hildina she was gone, 

And only her stepmother there found he. 

4. " Be he in whatever land, 

This will I prove true, 
He shall be hanged from the highest tree 
That ever upward grew." 

5. "If the Earl but come to Orkney, 

Saint Magnus will be his aid, 
And in Orkney ever he will remain 
Haste after him with speed." 

6. The King he stood before his lady, 

And a box on her ear gave he, 
And all adown her lily white cheeks 
The tears did flow truly. 

7. The Earl he stood before Hildina, 

And a pat on her cheek gave he, 
" O which of us two wouldst thou have lie dead, 
Thy father dear or me?" 

8. " I would rather see my father doomed, 

And all his company, 
If so my own true lord and I 
May long rule in Orkney. 

9. "Now do thou take in hand thy steed, 

And ride thou down to the strand; 

And do thou greet my sire full blithely, 

And gladly will he clasp thy hand." 

10. The King he now made answer 

So sore displeased was he 
"In payment for my daughter 
What wilt thou give to me." 


11. "Thirty marks of the red gold, 

This to thee will I give, 
And never shalt thou lack a son 
As long as I may live." 

1 2. Now long stood the King, 

And long on the Earl gazed he: 
"O thou art worth a host of sons; 
Thy boon is granted thee." 

It will be seen that up to this point, in spite of the 
loss of the names, there can be little doubt that the 
subject of the ballad is the story of Hethin and Hogni. 
After this however the narrative deviates from any 
other known version of this story. It would rather 
seem that as in the German Kudrun two stories, 
originally distinct, have been brought together in 
one poem. 


The numbers refer to chapters (sagas) and strophes (ballads, etc.) 


The Thdttr of Nornagest. A thdttr is a portion (episode) 
of a longer saga, in this case the Saga of Olaf Tryggvason 
which is found in the Flateyjarbok. 

I. King Olaf Tryggvason^ one of the most famous kings of 
Norway (r. 995-1000). He compelled the country to accept 
Christianity. For accounts of his life and times, see the 
Story of OlafTryggvison in the Heimskringla^ vol. I, pp. 221 
378; and also the longer Saga of King Olaf Tryggwason^ 
translated by Sephton. 

Trondhjem^ originally the name, not of a town, but of the 
entire district round the Trondhjem Fjord. 

A man came to him. Cf. the Saga of Olaf Tryggvason 
(Heimskringla\ ch. 71. 

Guest. Here a pun is intended, the word Gestr in Icelandic 
signifying a * guest' as well as a 'stranger.' 

The Contentious. The word in the text, "pingbftrj seems 
to mean 'sharp in debate,' and to refer to his ready wit and 
astuteness in litigation. 

Guest said that he had been prime-signed. To ' prime-sign ' 
signified to make the prima signatio or sign of the Cross 
over a person, preliminary to baptism. People so 'prime- 
signed' were admitted to certain parts of the Mass and to 
social intercourse in Christian communities. See the Saga 
of Egil Skallagrfmsson, ch. 50 "King Athelstan [of England] 
was a good Christian He asked Thorolf and his brother to 
let themselves be prime-signed; for this was a common 
practice with both merchants and soldiers who took service 
under Christians. Men who were prime-signed had free 


intercourse with both Christians and heathens, and followed 
whatever religion they liked best. Thorolf and Egil did as 
the King asked them, and both were prime-signed." 

Svein Forkbeard) King of Denmark from 986 (?) to 1014, 
and of England also during the last year of his life. 

The Emperor Otto, i.e. Otto II, 973-983. 

Dane-work^ i.e. the Danish Wall still partially preserved, 
which divided Jutland from the land of the Saxons and 
stretched from near the city of Slesvig to the marsh-land 
along the River Treene. 

King Harold Gormsson appears to have reigned for about 
fifty years and to have died probably in 986. He was 
nick-named Harold 'Bluetooth' (or perhaps * Blacktooth '). 
About 974 he fought the Emperor Otto II, and Earl Haakon 
of Norway aided him. Both Harold and Haakon were forced 
to accept Christianity, but Haakon afterwards renounced it. 

Earl Haakon the Heathen^ i.e. Earl Haakon the Great, or 
the Bad, who ruled over Norway, 975-995. 

Guthmund. Cf. the Saga of Hervb'r and Heithrek^ ch. I . 
See also Saxo Grammaticus, Dan. Hist.) pp. 346-349, where 
Guthmund is described as a magician dwelling in the land 
of the Perms. But see Glasisvellir^ below. 

Glasisvellir. Cf. the Saga of Hervbr and Heithrek^ ch. I. 
For the name of the tree or grove called Glasir beside Othin's 
abode in Valhalla, see Skdldskaparmdl^ ch. 34 : " Glasir 
stands with golden foliage before the halls of the God of 
Victory." See also Bjarkamdl in Forna^ str. 3. 

II. U/f the Red was standard-bearer to Olaf Tryggvason 
at the Battle of Svold (cf. the Saga of Olaf Tryggvason, 
Heimskringla^ ch. 56), where he slew great numbers of the 

The Bay, i.e. Christiania Fjord and the adjacent coasts. 

King Half. See Hdlfssaga^ ch. 10; and Flateyjarbok, n, 
pp. 136, 137. King Half had a chosen band of warriors 
numbering about sixty, who were subject to strict discipline 

222 NOTES 

and rules which Professor Craigie (The Icelandic Sagas^ p. 94) 
suggests were modelled on those of the Jomsvikings. For 
instance, "It was one of their customs always to lie off the 
ends of promontories. Secondly, they made a rule of never 
pitching tents on their ships and never clewing up the sail 
on account of bad weather." The incident referred to in the 
text is not mentioned in the Saga. 

No halls had been built in Norway. The writer probably 
means to contrast the stone halls of his own day with the 
wooden structures of earlier times. 

The Harping of Gunnar^ a lost poem. The legend here 
referred to is told in Volsunga Saga^ ch. 37 (and elsewhere), 
doubtless from an old lay. 'King Attila had Gunnar cast 
into a pit full of snakes... and his hands were tied. Guthrun 
sent him a harp, and he was so skilful in harping that he could 
play it with his toes; and he harped so well that hardly anyone 
had ever heard such skilful playing, even with the hand. So 
beautifully did he play that all the snakes were lulled to sleep 
except one horrible big adder which crept up to him and 
stung him to the heart. Thus he perished with great 

Gunnar, the son of Gjuki, is the central figure both of 
the Norse story and of the German Nibelungenlied^ in which 
he is called Gunther. In reality, he was overthrown and 
killed by the Huns in 437, after which the Burgundians 
moved from the Rhine to the district now known as Bur- 

The Ancient Wiles of Guthrun. It is generally believed 
that this is the name of another lost heroic poem. But the 
title may possibly mean The Adventures of Guthrun^ in which 
case the poem referred to may be the well-known Ancient Lay 
of Guthrun (GuSrunarkvi&a hin forna). This latter poem is 
alluded to in ch. 9 below under the title of Guftrunarrtefta. 

IV. The Land of the Franks^ the Rhineland. As far 
back as the fifth century the Franks occupied that region 
to the north of the Burgundians. 


Sigurth the son of Sigmund. The story of Sigurth the 
Volsung is related in Volswige Saga. 

Hundingsbani, i.e. 'Slayer of Hunding.' See Vblsunga 
Saga, ch. 9. 

V. // chanced one day that, etc. Chapters 5 and 6 are mainly 
taken from the poem Reginsmdl of which strophes 13-26 
are quoted in our text. Reginsmdl is the first poem of a trilogy 
dealing with the early adventures of Sigurth. The two re- 
maining poems Fdfnismdl and Sigrdrifumdl are used only in 
the last two sentences of ch. 6. 

Tngvi is a name of the god Frey, from whom the kings of 
Norway and the early kings of Sweden were believed to have 

Fafnisbani, i.e. 'Slayer of Fafnir.' Cf. ch. 6 infra. See 
also Vohunga Saga, ch. 1 8. 

The Imperial Power had not, etc. This may mean either 
the refounding of the Western Empire by Charlemagne, 
A.D. 800, or possibly the gaining of the Imperial throne by 
Otto I, King of the Germans, in 962. 

VI. Sigurth prepared for battle, etc. An account of this 
battle is given in Vohunga Saga, ch. 17. 

The sea-king's steed. The text has Rafils hestum, lit. 
'Raefil's horses.' Raefil was a legendary sea-king. The 
names of such characters are frequently used in ' kennings ' 
(i.e. poetic circumlocutions) like this. 

Hnikar, a name of the god Othin in the Grimnismdl 
(str. 47) and elsewhere. 

The Moon's sister. The text has systur Mdna, 'Mani's 
sister,' i.e. the sun. Mdni, the old word for the moon, is 
preserved in Iceland only in a mythological sense, the ordinary 
word in use for moon being tungl. Mdni and Sol (the sun) 
were brother and sister. See Vafjprujmismdl, str. 23; also 
Gy/fagmnm&ch. n, 12. 

Order their array, lit. 'draw up a wedge-shaped column' 
a favourite battle-formation, the origin of which was 
ascribed to Othin. 

224 NOTES 

Stumbling is bad luck^ etc. So Wilken (gloss, s.v. fyrir^ 
2.) Vigfiisson and Gering transl. ' It is an ill thing to outrun 
one's luck.' 

Fries/and. In early times the Frisians occupied a much 
greater extent of coast than now, reaching from the boundary 
between Holland and Belgium on one side to beyond the 
mouth of the Weser on the other apart from the Frisians 
inhabiting the west coast of Slesvig. 

The ' blood-eagle ' was a form of vengeance practised by 
the heathen Scandinavians in battle when anyone captured 
the slayer of his father. The ribs were cut in the shape of 
an eagle, and the lungs torn out through the opening. The 
Northumbrian King Ella (^Ella) is said to have been put to 
death in this way by the sons of Ragnar Lothbrok. Cf. the 
Saga of Ragnar Loftbrok and his sons^ ch. 1 8 ; also the Thdttr 
of Ragnar' s Sons, ch. 3. 

Hugin and Munln were Othin's attendant ravens who gave 
him information. See GHmnismd^ str. 20; Gylfaginning^ 
ch. 38; Tnglingasaga (Heimskringla\ ch. 7. 

The story of Sigurth Fafnisbani. The whole story of the 
loves of Sigurth and Brynhild is related in the Vblsunga Saga^ 
ch. 20-32. It is uncertain whether the reference here is to 
the Volsunga Saga as we have it or to an earlier form of the 

VII. Gjuki is mentioned under the form Gebica in the Lex 
Burgundionum (c. 500 A.D.). Nothing more is known of him 
from historical sources; but he is mentioned in Skdldskaparmdl^ 
ch. 41, Volsunga Saga ch. 25, and in the Edda Poems^ as the 
father of Gunnar and Guthrun. His name appears also (as 

ty^ th 

y Gibicho, etc.) in the Anglo-Saxon poem Widsty^ 
Latin poem Waltharms, and in several early German poems. 
Sigurth firing^ a legendary king of Sweden and Denmark, 
and the father of Ragnar LoSbrok. His story is related at 
length in a fragment ofthtSkjSJdungaSaga; and he is probably 
identical with the Sigifridus who is mentioned in several 
Frankish Chronicles under the year 812 as carrying on 
hostilities against another Danish King Anulo. 


The sons of Gandalf were in constant hostility with King 
Harold the Fairhaired and his father. They owned Alfheimar 
and Vingulmork along the Swedish coast of the Kattegat. 
Cf. the Story of Half dan the Black (Heimskringla), ch. I, 4; 
also the Story of Harold the Fairhaired (Heimskringla}, ch. I 

Gunnar and Hogni. The story of the relations of Gunnar 
and Hogni with Sigurth is told in Volsunga Saga, ch. 26 f. 

Jarnamotha. The locality is unknown. There were large 
forests in Holstein in the Middle Ages called * larnawith ' and 
'Isarnho'; cf. Miillenhoft, Deutsche d/tertumskunde, v,p. 122. 

hazlewood poles had been set up, etc. The verb has/a, used 
in the sense of 'to challenge (to a pitched battle),' means, lit. 
'to enhazle' a battlefield, i.e. to mark out the space reserved 
for a pitched battle with hazel poles. Cf. the Saga of Egil 
Skallagrimsson, ch. 52. 

The Kurir were the people of Courland (perhaps Lithu- 
anians). The Kvtenir were the Finnish inhabitants of the 
northern portion of what is now Sweden. King Alfred, in 
his translation of Orosius, inserts an original account of Nor- 
way and the neighbouring regions which was given to him 
by a Norwegian called Ohthere. It is there stated that beyond 
the mountains which bound the northern part of Norway was 
'the land of the Cwenas.' Cf. also the Saga of Egil Skalla- 
grimsson, ch. 14. 

Starkath, the ideal warrior of old time in the North. 
Probably originally a historical figure, he became the centre 
of much legendary matter, and, as often happened in such 
cases, he was even credited with the composition of many 
poems, notably that on the Battle of Bravoll an event which 
probably took place long after his time. In Saxo Grammaticus, 
Dan. Hist., pp. 246-258, he corresponds to the unnamed 
"Old Warrior" mentioned in Beowulf, 1. 2041 ff. 

Fenhring, in Horthaland in Norway, not far from Bergen. 

Lund, the old ecclesiastical capital of Denmark, situated 
in Skaane in the extreme south of Sweden. Not only Skaane, 

K. 15 

226 NOTES 

but also the neighbouring provinces (Halland, etc.) belonged 
in early times to Denmark. 

VIII. Starkath had committed afoul murder. For this story 
see Saxo Grammaticus, Dan. Hist.^ p. 3 1 4 ff. Saxo says that the 
rule of King Ali or Ole was so hateful to the Zealanders that 
twelve of their generals resolved to put him to death, bribing 
Starkath to join them. Although a personal friend of Ole, 
Starkath agreed to do so, and murdered him in his bath. He 
afterwards repented bitterly, "and to atone for his crime slew 
some of those who had inspired him to it." 

Travels. I have followed the reading ferSa, * travels,' 
adopted by Wilken, notfrtenda, as in the Fornaldar Sogur^ ed. 
by Asmundarson. The latter would read: "The King wanted 
him to tell him much more about the history of his relatives." 

IX. Germans say^ etc. For the German story of the 
murder of Sigurth see the Nibelungenlied^ str. 985 fF. 

Guthrunarrcetha. This is no doubt the poem commonly 
called Guftrunarkvi&a hin forna^ the opening of which 
narrates how Sigurth's horse came home riderless. 

Brynhild and the ogress chanted^ etc. The following lay is 
found in the Edda Poems under the title oiHelreift Brynhildar 
('The Hell-ride of Brynhild'). 

From the Land of the Romans^ lit. 'From Valland' the 
'land of the Valar,' i.e. the Celts or Romans. Here the 
reference is doubtless to the Roman territories on the west bank 
of the Rhine. In the Nibelungenlied^ Gunther (i.e Gunnar) 
is represented as reigning at Worms. Cf. p. 232 below. 

Assigned me a home, etc. In the Codex Regius of the Edda 
Poems this passage runs as follows: "The courageous king 
had my swan-form and those of my eight sisters carried 
beneath an oak." 

Hjalmgunnar. See Sigrdrifumdl^ the prose following str. 4. 
"She (i.e. Sigrdrifa) said that two kings were fighting. One 
was called Hjalmgunnar. He was old at that time, but a 
very great warrior, and Othin had promised him victory; but 
the other was called Agnar, the brother of Autha, whom no 


being wofcld protect. Sigrdrifa (who was a valkyrie) slew 
Hjalmgunnar in battle, but Othin pierced her with a sleep- 
producing thorn in punishment for this," etc. 

Fafnir was the serpent who guarded the gold hoard on 
GnitaheiS till Sigurth slew him and carried off the treasure. 

All too long, etc. In the Codex Regius of the Edda Poems 
this passage runs as follows: "For far too long a time (?for 
ever) will women and men be born into the world to over- 
whelming sorrow." 

The Sons of Lothbrok. Ragnar Lothbrok was a famous king 
who flourished about the middle of the ninth century, and 
who, according to legend, obtained his name ('Shaggy 
Breeks') from the shaggy trowsers which he wore when he 
went to attack a serpent. His various exploits are told in the 
Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok^ and in the Thdttr of the Sons of 
Ragnar^ and also by Saxo Grammaticus, Dan. Hist., pp. 368- 
380, etc. Among his other adventures he is said to have 
invaded Northumbria, but he was defeated by King Ella 
(./Ella) and thrown into a snake-pit, where he "died laughing," 
as we are told in a late poem (Krakumdl or the ' Death-song 
of Ragnar Lothbrok '). His death was afterwards avenged by 
his sons who invaded England in 866. Practically nothing 
historical is known of LoSbrok himself, though the achieve- 
ments of his sons, both in the British Isles and on the continent, 
are of great historical importance. 

In the neighbourhood of the Alps. In 856, Bjorn Ironside, 
a son of Ragnar Lothbrok, with Hastein his chief lieutenant, 
invaded France, and during the years 859-862 made ex- 
peditions to Spain, Africa, the south of France, and Italy, 
capturing Pisa, Luna, etc. There can be no doubt that in 
their invasion of Italy in 860 the real objective was Rome; 
but for some unknown reason they returned without ap- 
proaching it. According to Scandinavian tradition, when they 
entered Luna they were under the impression that it was 
Rome, and returned satisfied that their aim was accomplished. 

Vifilsborg. This place is identified by Wilken with the 
modern Avenches in the Canton Vaud (Switzerland). 


228 NOTES 

Make their way there^lit. 'pass over (the mountains) thither.' 

X. Eric, a famous King of Sweden in the time of Harold 
the Fairhaired, King of Norway, in the latter half of the 
ninth century. He is frequently referred to in the Sagas and 
regarded as the typical great Swedish King of the past. 

Upsa/a, i.e. Old Upsala, the ancient capital of the Swedish 
kingdom, a few miles from the modern city. 

King Harold the Fairhaired^ said to have been born c. 850 
and to have succeeded as King of Vestfold c. 860. His con- 
quest of Norway was practically completed at the Battle of 
Hafrsfjorth (c. 872). He is said to have retired in 930 and 
died c. 933 

King Hlothver^ i.e. Louis I, King of the Franks and 
Emperor, 814-840. 

The Saxons inhabited a large part of north-west Germany 
and Holland; but the name Sax/and is often used in a wider 
sense, i.e. the German part of the Empire. 

Nornagest^ i.e. 'Gest (or guest) of the Norns.' The Norns 
were represented in Scandinavian mythology as women with 
the power of shaping human destiny. See tielgakvi&a Hun- 
dingsbana^ i, str. 2; Gylfaginning^ chs. 15, 16; Saxo Gram- 
maticus, Dan. Hist. y p. 223; the Saga of Burnt Njdl^ ch. 156. 
Similar beliefs occur in Greek stories about the Fates (KXwfe) 
e.g. the late Greek legend of the birth of Meleager. Cf. 
p. 13 above. 

XII. Three hundred. I have used round figures here as 
elsewhere. Strictly the Norse i oo is 1 20. 


I. Panakvisl. The opening sentence may be compared with 
Tnglingasaga, ch. i, in the Heimskringla. From this it appears 
that Vanakvfsl is the River Don, though strictly kvisl means 
the fork (delta) of a river. 


Msir and Vanir, two sets of Scandinavian deities; but the 
references to the River Don and Asia are due to the learned 
speculations of later times, suggested partly by the resemblance 
of Asia and &sir. According to Ynglingasaga, chs. 14, there 
was war between the^Esir and the Vanir, which was concluded 
by an exchange of hostages. The Vanir gave to the ^sir three 
of their leading people Njorth and his children Frey and 
Freyja. Othin made Njorth and Frey temple-priests, and 
Freyja a temple-priestess. What is said about Freyja here is not 
mentioned in Tnglingasaga\ but from the poems of the Edda it 
is clear that she was the Aphrodite of northern mythology. 

Asgarth. For a description of Asgarth, the home of the 
./Esir, see Gylfaginning, chs. 2, 9, 14, etc. 

Men in Asia called Alfregg, etc. For Dvalin, cf. the Saga 
of Hervb'r and Heithrek, ch. 2 and note. 

Lived in a rock\ cf. Voluspd, str. 48. 

Necklace. For the Brtsingamen, Freyja's treasure, see 
ThrymskviSa, str. 12, etc. Cf. also Beowulf, 1. 1199. 

II. Nal, i.e. 'Needle/ 

Loki. See Gylfaginning, ch. 33; and the Edda Poems, passim. 

So much favoured by the great good fortune of his lord. Cf. 
Laxd&la Saga, ch. 40 <Mun konungr [i.e. Olaf Trygg- 
vason] vera giftudrjugr ok hamingju-mikihV 

III. Frithfrothi, the mythical peace-king of the Danes. See 
Skdldskaparmdl, ch. 43. He is often split up into two different 
characters, as by Saxo Grammaticus. (See especially Dan. 
Hist., Book v, which gives an account of the great Frothi.) 

Erling and Sorli. Their story is told in the Saga of Sorli 
the Strong (Fornaldar Sogur, in.). 

Skerries of the Elf. Rocky islands near the mouth of the 
Gota Elv not far from Goteborg. 

IV. Half dan, surnamed Bronufostri. Seethe Saga of Sorli 
the Strong, ch. 1 1, where he is represented as King of Sweden. 

Roeskilde, the old capital of Sjaelland, now the ecclesiastical 
capital of Denmark. 

230 NOTES 

Ellithi. See the Saga of Thorstein Vikingson (passim), and 
the Saga of Friftjof the Bold (passim). 

Gnoth. The ship Gnoth belonged to Asmund, who was 
called after it 'GnoSar- Asmund.' Cf. the Saga of Egil and 
Asmund) ch. 17; and the Saga of Grim Loftinkinni, ch. 3. See 
also the Saga of Hromund Greipsson^ ch. i. 

Long Serpent^ i.e. the warship of Olaf Tryggvason. 

As is told in the poem, etc. The poem is now lost. 

The poem of which he is the subject. The Saga here quotes 
a difficult and obscure stanza which I have omitted. 

Hogni...went raiding in the Baltic, etc. In Widsift^ 1. 21, 
Hogni is said to have ruled the Holmryge^ i.e., no doubt, the 
Rugii on the coast of Pomerania. 

V. Hjarrandi is the name of Hethin's father in all the Norse 
forms of the story; but originally this would seem to have 
been the name of Hethin's minstrel the Horant of Kudrun, 
and the Heorrenda of Deor. 

Serkland) i.e. Africa, 'Saracen Land/ It is only in this 
story that Hethin is said to come from here. Saxo Gram- 
maticus calls him a Norwegian. Cf. also Widsij), 1. 21, which 
gives the name of an unknown people. 

Gb'ndul) the name of one of the Valkyries. See Voluspd^ 
str. 31 ; Hdkonarmdl) passim; Skdldskaparmdl^ chs. 2 and 47. 

VI. Heithrek Ulfham. For Heithrek Ulfham see the Saga 
of Hervor and Heithrek^ ch. 16. 

VII. She asked him. I have followed Rafn's text. The 
Reykjavfk ed. apparently has a misprint here hann for hon. 

He thrust the Queen down in front of the prow, etc. The 
murder of the Queen is peculiar to this saga. 

VIII. This harrowing torment continued, etc. A good deal 
has been written on the subject of the Unending Battle, which 
many writers believe to have been of mythological origin, 
Very often, however, it appears in local traditions. See 
Frazer's Pausanias^ vol. n, p. 443 (the reference to the Battle 
of Marathon), where a considerable number of parallels are 


given. See also Panzer, Hilde-Gudrun^ p. 328. Cf. p. 43, 
note i above. 

Olaf Tryggvason. See the Thdttr of Nornagest^ ch. I and 

IX. Jarnskjb'ld. Cf. Fornmanna Sogur^ vol. in, p. 1 25 ff. 
(Saga of Olaf Tryggvason]. 

Glance of his eye y etc. Literally, "He has the agishjdlmr" 
This is a poetical expression for a glance inspiring terror. 


I. Gnothar-Asmund) i.e. Asmund of the Gnoth, who was so 
called from his ship 'Gnoth' (cf. p. 230 above). For an 
account of him see the Saga of Egtl and Asmund (in Fornaldar 
Sogur^ vol. in), especially ch. 17. He is mentioned also in 
the Saga of Grim LoSinkinni^ ch. 2. A different account of 
OlaPs family is given in Gb'ngu-Hrolfs Saga^ ch. 38. 

Garthar in Denmark. The geography of the story is by 
no means clear. Elsewhere in this saga Olaf's realm would 
seem to be situated in Sweden, while references in other 
works, e.g. Landndmabok^ i, ch. 3, Hversu Noregr Bygthist, 
ch. 2 (Fornaldar Sogur^ u, p. 7) etc., point to Norway, es- 
pecially the provinces of Thelamork and Horthaland, as the 
home of Hromund and his family. 

Hromund. According to Landndmabok^ i, ch. 3, Ingolf 
and Leif, the first settlers in Iceland (A.D. 874) were the 
great grandsons of Hromund Greipsson. This would seem to 
show that he lived in the second half of the eighth century. 
See also the Saga of Ha If dan Eysteinsson^ ch. i . 

Bild and VoR. For these names, see Introduction to this 
saga, p. 59, and the note to Mistletoe below. 

Ulfasker. A corruption of Elfasker. Cf. Griplur, str. 25, 
and note to Skerries of the Elf y p. 229 above. 

Dragon^ a common term for a large type of warship in the 
Viking Age. 

232 NOTES 

Scoundrels. The text has Bldmenn, i.e. lit. 'Black men,' 
negroes. But in the Romantic Sagas, owing probably to the 
influence of stories relating to the Saracens, pirates are 
described as Bldmenn, even in stories relating exclusively to 
the North. Cf. The Ballad of Hjdlmar and Angantyr (refrain), 
p 184, above. 

II. / am going to be Othin's guest, is a euphemism for c be 
slain,' and is equivalent to 'go to Valhalla,' the abode of slain 
warriors which belonged to Othin. See the Saga of Egil 
Skallagrimsson, ch. 81, where Thorgerth, Egil's daughter, 
says that she will have no supper till she "sup with Freyja." 

No blade would wound Hrongvith. It is not uncommon to 
hear that a warrior, usually an unsympathetic character, was 
immune through spells from wounds inflicted by weapons; 
cf. Beowulf, 1. 804, where this is stated of GrendeL 

III. Hebrides. The word Suthreyjar, here translated 
Hebrides, properly means all the islands off the west coast of 
Scotland. The modern form of the word is Sodor, surviving 
in the name of the diocese of 'Sodor and Man.' 

Ghosts. It will be seen from the context that the word 
draugr here translated 'ghost,' is in reality the animated 
corpse of the dead man. This is a common feature of Norse 
stories (e.g. the Saga of Grettir the Strong, ch. 18). 

IV. Valland, i.e. France, lit. the 'Land of the Valar* i.e. 
of the Celts or Romans. In Anglo-Saxon literature the 
French are sometimes called Galwalas, i.e. the ' Walas (Welsh) 
of Gaul.' See also the Thdttr of Nornagest, ch. 9 and note. 

And he added, etc. Are we to assume a lacuna here? 
The composition of this saga is however far from perfect. 
In certain passages (e.g. at the beginning of this chapter) one 
is inclined to suspect that someone has tried to combine two 
different texts of the story. 

Finger nails, etc. Cf. the physiological fact of the growth 
of the finger nails after death, and the legend of Charlemagne 
according to which his beard grew through a stone table 
after his death. 


Gunnldth. Other documents appear to make Hromund a 
Norwegian, and this is what we should gather from Land- 
ndmabok quoted above (p. 231, note). See Hversu Noregr 
Byg&st, ch. 2. 

Mistletoe , the name of the sword again connects this story 
with that of Balder who is stated in Voluspd, str. 32 and 
Gylfaginning, ch. 49 to have been killed by a piece of mistletoe. 

V. Dagny^ the wife of Ingjold, who was the friend of 
Grim Lothinkinni. See the Saga of Grim Loftinkinni, ch. 3. 

Hdlogaland. See Hervarar Saga, ch. I and note; and also 
the Sagas of Ketil H&ng and Grim Loftinkinni. 

Voli and BUd, etc. At this point the writer of the saga has 
omitted part of the dialogue in which Olaf threatens to hang 
Hromund. Cf. Griplur, p. 383, str. 20, 21. 

VI. Helgi is known elsewhere as Helgi Haddingjaskati, 
e.g. in the short text called Hversu Noregr BygSist^ ch. 2 
(Fornaldar Sogur^ u, p. 7). According to the prose at the end 
of Helgakvi&a Hundingsbana n, Helgi Haddingjaskati and 
Kara were reincarnations of Helgi Hundingsbani and Sigrun, 
the hero and heroine of this poem. Their story was given in 
a poem called KdruljoS which is now lost. See however 
Vigfusson and Powell, Corpus Poeticum Boreale^ vol. i, 

pp. 129 and 130. 

On the frozen surface of Lake Vener. This story is perhaps 
taken from that of the battle related in Skdldskaparmdl, ch. 43 
and Tnglingasaga^ ch. 33. Cf. Beowulf^ 1. 2392 ff. 

Kara^ For the form Lara which appears in the printed 
editions see p. 62, note, above. In the prose at the end of 
Helgakvifta Hundingsbana u, Kara is called a valkyrie. 

VIII. Hagal. The story of Hagal and Blind is given also 
at the beginning of HelgakviSa Hundingsbana n; but here 
the person disguised as a grinding-maid is Helgi, the hero of 
the poem. 

X. Who was also called Bavis; cf. Helgakv. Hund. n, str. 2, 
where he is called Blindr enn bb'lvisi ('skilled in harmful 
doings '). 

234 NOTES 


I. Finnmark) i.e. the northernmost part of the Scandinavian 

Jb'tunheimar) i.e. the homes of the jbtnar or giants. This 
name occurs frequently in Norse stories, though it is not 
elsewhere connected with Finnmark. 

Ymisland) i.e. the land of Inttr\ see below. 

Halogaland) i.e. the northern part of Norway stretching 
from about lat. 65 as far as Finnmark. 

Guthmund. Cf. the Thdttr of Nornagest, ch. I and note. 
Glasisvsllir. Cf. the Thdttr of Nornagest^ ch. I, and note. 

Fields of immortality) i.e. lit. 'Fields of the not dead' 
(odainsakr). Cf. the Saga of Eirikr Viftforla, ch. I, and the 
Saga of Half dan Eysteinsson^ ch. I. See also Saxo Grammati- 
cus, Dan. Hist.) p. 1 29. 

Hb'fund. The name means lit. 'Judge.' 

Ymir, i.e. the old 'Rime-giant,' the first being created out 
of Chaos, from whom the giants sprang; cf. Voluspd, str. 3; 
Vaf]?ru]pnismdl) str. 21, Grimnismdl) str. 40; HyndluljoS, 
str. 33; Gylfaginning, chs. 5-8. 

Starkath Aludreng. See Gautreks Saga, ch. 3, according 
to which this Starkath is the grandfather of his more famous 
namesake, for whom see the Thdttr of Nornagest) ch. 7 and 
note. See also Saxo Grammaticus, Dan. Hist.) pp. 224, 225. 

Elivagar. See Vafyrujinismdl, str. 3 1 ; Gylfaginning, ch. 5 ; 
Hymiskvifta^ str. 5. 

Alfheimar, a name given to the region between the 
G0taelv and the River Glommen, in the south-east of Norway 
(now mainly in Sweden). The royal family of this region is 
frequently mentioned in the history of Harold the Fairhaired 
and his father, and also in the stories of Sigurth Hring. See 
the Thdttr of Nornagest^ ch. 7 and note. 

Ey-grim Bo/m, i.e. 'Grim of the Island of Bolm.' 


Arngrim. See Saxo Grammaticus, Dan. Hist., p. 203 ff. 

Berserk. See Tnglingasaga, ch. 6. 

II. Dwarfs. Cf. the story of SvegSir in Tng/mgasaga,ch. 1 5. 

Dvalin is the name of a dwarf in Vbluspd, str. n, 14; 
Hdvamdl, str. 143, and in other of the Edda poems. It 
is, in fact, the typical name for a dwarf. Cf. also Gylfa- 
ginning, ch. 14, and Skdldskaparmdl, ch. 3, 57. Dulin does 
not occur elsewhere, though Durin is found in Vbluspd, str. I o. 

Standing in the doorway of the stone, etc. Cf. Voluspd, 
str. 48. 

To ur sword, etc. Cf. Skdldskaparmdl, ch. 49. "Now I 
have drawn Ddinsleif, which the dwarfs made and which 
must cause a man's death every time it is drawn, and never 
fails in its stroke." 

Tyrfing. It has been suggested that this name is derived 
from tyrfi, 'resinous fir-tree,' owing to its flaming like 
resinous fir-wood. In early times it was customary for swords 
to be called by names ending in -ing. Cf. the swords Hrunting 
in Beowulf, 1. 1457, etc., Ntegling, ibid., 1. 2680, andAfimming 
in Waldhere, \. 3, etc., etc. 

Perms. The text has um Ejarmaland ('in the land of the 
Bjarmar,' i.e. the Beormas of Ohthere's Voyage in Alfred's 
translation of Orosius. It is generally reached, not as here, 
apparently, by the Baltic, but by voyages round the North 
Cape. The name is generally supposed to be connected with 
Perm, and in early times may have comprehended the 
Zyrianians, as well as the Permians proper and the Votiaks. 
There is some evidence from place-names that this group 
of languages was once spoken as far west as the White Sea. 
Cf. Abercromby, The Pre- and Proto-historic Finns, p. I O f. 

Svafrlami. The text (H) followed by the Reykjavik edition 
here has Sigrlami which can hardly be right. Rafn's ed. 
reads Svafrlami. 

Twelve sons. For Arngrim's Sons, Cf. Hyndluljoth, 
str. 23, 24; Saxo Grammaticus, Dan. Hist., pp. 203-205; 
Saga of Orvar Odd, ch. 14. 

236 NOTES 

Twins. See the Saga of Harold the Fairhaired (Heims- 
kringla)y ch. 18, where again we find twins both receiving 
the same name. 

Mistletoe. A sword of the same name occurs in the Saga 
of Hromund Greipsson (see above). 

Hrott'i. Cf. Hrunting, the sword of Hunferth in Beowulf^ 
1. 1457 etc. See also the note to Tyrfing, p. 235. 

III. Tuh) a festival of heathen times, approximately at 
Christmas, but rather later. 

Feast) lit. 'At the Bragi-cup.' The custom of making 
vows in connection with these toasts was carried on into 
Christian times, an interesting example being found in the 
Saga of Olaf Tryggvason (Heimskringla\ ch. 39. See also 
the Saga of Haakon the Good (Heimskringla\ ch. 16; and 
Helgakvl&a Hjorvarftssonar^ str. 32. 

dngantyr made a vow. In the Royal MS. (see p. 79) it 
is Hjorvarth who makes the vow and subsequently claims 
the bride. 

Tngvi is the family name of the early Swedish kings. 
Collectively the early Swedish royal family were called 
Yngltngar. Cf. Ynglingasaga, ch. 2O. 

Never did he y etc. Compare what is said of Hogni's sword 
in Skdldskaparmdl) ch. 49. 

Samsfi. The fight at Samso is described in another MS. of 
this saga (which is translated in the appendix to Part I, p. 145 ff. 
above and which contains also the Death-song of Hjalmar\ 
as well as in the Saga ofOrvar Odd^ ch. 14, and in Saxo Gram- 
maticus, Dan. Hist.) p. 205. The Island of Samso is situated 
half way between Jutland and Sjaelland. 

IV. Exposing the child^ etc. For the custom of exposing 
infants, especially girls, at birth, so as to cause their death, see 
the Saga of Gunnlaug Ormstungu^ ch. 3, the Saga of Finnbogi 
Rammi) etc. A similar custom prevailed in Ancient Greece. 
Cf. Plato, Rep. v, 461; Aristophanes, Clouds^ 1. 530 f. 


Sprinkled with water. Sprinkling a child with water when 
a name was given to it appears to have been customary in 
heathen times. Cf. the Saga of Harold the Fairhaired 
(Heimskringla), ch. 40; the Saga of Haakon the Good, ch. 12; 
the Saga of Egil Skallagrimsson, ch. 31; Vblsunga Saga, 
ch. 13. 

She grew up, etc. Cf. the description of the later Hervor 
in ch. 10. 

Here is a poem, etc. The poem is probably earlier than 
the Saga in its present form. Heusler (Eddica Minora, p. xxi) 
refers it to the early part of the twelfth century. 

/ will give you my necklace, etc. Note the discrepancy 
between the poem and the prose at this point. In the former 
it would seem to be Hervor who offers a necklace, and this 
is what we should expect. 

Foolish is he who comes here alone, etc. Cf. J. M. Synge, 
The Aran Islands, in: "We went up on the dun, where 
Michael said he had never been before after nightfall, though 

he lives within a stone's throw These people make no 

distinction between the natural and the supernatural." 

V. Ghosts, i.e. the animated corpses of the people buried 

Nor other kinsman. There is a lacuna in the text of the MS . 
at this point. 

VI. Bring up the child, etc. It was customary for men in 
high station to send their children to be brought up and 
educated in the houses of relatives and friends. 

Reithgotaland is here explained as Jutland; but in ch. 9, 
Heithrek's subjects are described as Gotar, i.e. Goths; and 
in the latter part of the Saga, from ch. 12 onwards, the 
subject is clearly a war between the Goths and Huns. The 
earliest occurrence of the word (in the Swedish Inscription of 
Rok; cf. also Vafjirujimsmdl, str. 12) gives not Reithgotaland, 

but Hraithgot aland, which suggests that the name may be 
connected in some way with Hrethgotan, a name applied to 
the Goths in Anglo-Saxon poetry. 

238 NOTES 

VII. Divination. The phrase means literally, 'The casting 
of bits of wood at the sacrifice.' C f. Tacitus, Ger mam a ,ch. 10. 

Every second man. annanhvdrn^ apparently for annanhvern. 

Hall of the Dis. It is not clear who the dis was, as the 
word is used rather loosely for supernatural female beings. 
Another reference to the Hall of the Dis occurs in Tnglinga- 
saga, ch. 33. One of the goddesses (Freyja?) may be meant; 
or it may be the guardian spirit of the family. 

VIII. Land of the Saxons. Cf. the Thdttr of Nornagest, 
ch. i o and note. 

Sifka andHloth. The names here mentioned, together with 
Hetthrek and Angantyr, are believed by some scholars to recur 
in Wtdsi}), 1. 1 16, where we find 

Hea&oric and Sifecan, H/ide and IncgenSeow^ 

mentioned as being among the followers of Eormenric. These 
names clearly come from Gothic tradition, but the passage 
would seem to suggest that Sifecavns a man, the Sibich of the 
German poems. Cf. Chambers, Widsith, p. 32. For the 
name Lotherus in Saxo, see note to ch. 1 2, p. 242. 

Holmgarth, i.e. Novgorod. 

IX. Wendland^ i.e. the 'Land of the Slavs' (Anglo-Saxon 
Weonodland). After the expansion of the Slavs, from the 
fifth century onwards, this term came to denote an enormous 
expanse of country, including the coast of Eastern Germany, 
to which it is applied in the account of the voyage of Wulfstan 
in Alfred's translation of Orosius. In earlier times, when the 
Goths still occupied Poland and Galicia, the Slavs were 
restricted to the regions east of these countries. 

His horse fell dead. Here the point of the story seems to be 
missed, or at least not clearly expressed. According to Hofund's 
fifth maxim (see ch. 6), Heithrek was not to ride his best 
horse when he was in a hurry. 

X. They had a daughter. From our text it would appear that 
Hervor was the daughter of Sifka; but the end of ch. 9 is 


probably a late addition to the text. In the text printed 
by Rafn, Hervor is expressly stated to be a daughter of 

Ormar is presumably to be identified with the Wyrmhere 
mentioned in Wtdstp^ 1. 119, in connection with the war 
waged by the Goths against the Huns in defence of their 
ancient fatherland, round the forest of the Vistula. 

Gestumblindi. For this curious name, cf. the Gestlblindus 
Gothorum rex mentioned by Saxo Grammaticus, Dan. Hist.^ 
p. 198 ff. 

In the King's retinue there were seven men^ etc. In the text 
(a) of this saga printed in Rafn's edition (Fornaldar Sogur^ 
i, p. 462), there are said to be twelve men here. This is no 
doubt the right figure, twelve being the regular number in 
the judicial councils of the North, whether historical or 
legendary. Thus, e.g. in the Saga of Olaf the Holy (Heim- 
skring/a), ch. 96 we read of a council of twelve sages (spekingar\ 
whose duty it was to advise the Swedish king, especially in 
the administration of justice. Similar councils existed in the 
Danish settlements in England. Thus Lincoln and Stamford 
had each a council of twelve (cf. Stubbs, Const. Hist.^ i, 
p. 1 06, and n. 4). We may compare the twelve priests who 
officiated in the sacrifices at Maeren (cf. the Saga of Olaf 
the Hofyj Heimskr. ch. 1 1 5), and the story of the twelve gods 
who were appointed by Othin as temple priests (hof-gotiar) 
to keep up the sacrifices and administer justice among men; 
cf. Ynglingasaga, ch. 2 (HyndluljoS^ str. 30; Gautrekssaga^ 
ch. 7). In the Irish Lay of Magnus Barelegs^ the Norwegians 
are referred to as Clann an da comairleac deag ('children or 
clan of the twelve councillors'). Cf. Laoid Magnius Moir 
(Reliques of Irish Poetry^ by Charlotte Brooke, Dublin 

King Heithrek worshipped Frey. One text quoted by Rafn 
(Vereltus] has Freyja for Frey. The boar appears in stories 
relating to both these deities, e.g. Gylfaginning, ch. 49; 
Skdldskaparmdly ch. 35; HyndlulioS^ str. 5, 7. 

2 4 o NOTES 

XL / won d that I had that, etc. On these riddles see 
Heusler, Eddica Minor a,^. xc ff. ; c Diealtnordischen Ratsel ' in 
Zeitsckrift des Vereins fur Volkskunde, xi, p. 1 1 7 ff. ; Tapper, 
Modern Language Notes, 18, p. 103; The Riddles of the 
Exeter Book, p. Hi, etc. In the original the riddles are all in 
verse, while the King's answers, except the refrain with which 
they begin ("Your riddle is a good one," etc.) are in prose. 

You went over a bridge, etc. The metrical text given by 
Rafn (Fornaldar Sb'gur, i, p. 466), has: "A bird flew above 
thee, a fish swam beneath thee, thou did'st go over a bridge." 
The prose text given on the same page has: u Thou did'st 
go over a bridge, and the course of the river was beneath thee, 
but birds were flying over thy head and on both sides of thee, 
and that was their road." 

Delling's doorway. Delling (perhaps from an obsolete word 
dallr, 'bright, shining') is mentioned in Vafjxrujmismdl, 
str. 25, as the 'father of Day.' Possibly he may originally 
have been a personification of day itself. The expression 
"before Delling's doorway " occurs also in Hdvamdl, str. 1 60, 
where it has been thought to mean 'at sunrise.' See also the 
genealogy in Hversu Noregr Byg&st, ch. I (Fornaldar Sb'gur, 
n, p. 6), where a certain Svanhild is said to be the daughter of 
Day, the son of Delling, and of Sol (i.e. the sun), the daughter 
of Mundilfari (cf. Gylfaginning, ch. 1 1). 

Wolves are always struggling for it. See Gylfaginning, 
ch. 1 2 (from Grimnismdl, str. 39). 

He who made it, etc. I have followed Heusler's reading 
and read er for ker and po or sjd for ]pd. ' 

Laying their eggs. For verja read verpa. 

Have no husbands. For eigu, read eigut, as on p. 1 2 1 . 

Game of chess. The text has hneftafl, i.e. a game having 
certain features in common with chess which was played in 
Iceland till the introduction of the latter, probably in the 
thirteenth century. Game-pieces have been discovered in 
Iceland which were probably used for this game. Some are 
plain and hemispherical in shape, others are shaped with a 


man's head or a dog's head. For a full and interesting descrip- 
tion of hn eft aft see H. J. R. Murray, A History of Chess , 
Oxford, 1913, Appendix I, 'Chess in Iceland,' pp. 443-446. 

Mgis meyjar. JEglr or Hler, the husband of Rann, is 
a personification of the sea; but the kennings SEgir's 
daughters,' '/Egir's steed,' etc. for 'billows' are common in 
poetry. See Helgakvifta Hundingsbana n, str. 29, and Eragar- 
rteftur^ ch. 55 (included in Brodeur's translation of the Prose 
Edda as Skdldskaparmdl^ ch. l). 

Reefs. For brimserkum, read brlmskerjum. 

Ocean-path. For brim-reiftar^ read brim-leiftar. The 
passage is possibly corrupt. 

That is the hunn. This stanza is difficult to interpret as 
we have no clear information as to the character of the game. 
It would seem that like the game of the Welsh tawlbwrdd^ 
it was played between sides composed, the one of sixteen 
'fair ' (white) men, the other of a King (called hnefa or hunn) 
and eight 'dark' (black) men. Cf. note to Game of Chess 
above. See also Murray, A History of Chess, Oxford 1913, 
Appendix I, 'Chess in Iceland,' pp. 443-446. 

Four walking^ etc. This riddle is found in a form almost 
identical with our text in Jakobsen's Dialect and Place 
Na?nes of Shetland (Lerwick, 1897), P- 53- The 'sow' is 
also found in the Exeter Book^ while 'the waves,' 'the 
anchor' and 'hailstones' have certain affinities with the AS. 

King Itrek's Game. The reference here seems to be to a 
game something like chess. The text (R) given by Heusler in 
his edition of the Eddica Minor a, p. 118, reads: "That is 
I trek and Andath when they sit at their game." 

Dead men, etc. In this strophe there seems to be an 
elaborate play on words. The phrase 'dead men' (dauftar 
menn) seems to be a disguise for val which means 'the slain' 
as well as 'hawk.' So also 'channel of blood' seems to be a 
disguise for atfi which means 'vein' as well as 'eider-duck.' 

K. 16 

242 NOTES 

Sleipnir. Othin's eight-footed horse. Cf. especially Gyl- 
fagmmngj ch. 42. 

Tell me lastly, etc. In Vaffrrulmismdl, str. 54, Othin makes 
himself known to Vafjmijmir by the same question. 

XII. This pike, etc. This verse is generally supposed to 
come from a lost poem on Heithrek. 

Mountains of Harvathi. It is thought that Harvathi may 
be the early Teutonic name for the Carpathians a remi- 
niscence of Gothic times. 

Humli and Hloth. These names may be compared with 
Humblus and Lotherus^ two sons of Dan, the first kings 
mentioned in Saxo Grammaticus, Dan. Hist.^ p. i. For the 
name Hloft cf. also note to ch. 7, p. 238. 

Poem. For this poem on the battle between the Goths and 
the Huns, see Heusler, Eddica Minora, p. vii ff., and notes. 
In part at least it appears to be very old. 

Myrkvith. The forest Myrkvith is mentioned also in 
Atlakvifta^ str. 3, 5, and 1 3 ; and in Helgakuifta Hundingsbana^ 
i, str. 53. 

Pillar , lit. 'stone.' I do not know what is meant. Possibly 
Guftrunarkvifta m, str. 3 may be compared. 

Danapers Shore. Danpr is treated as a personal name in 
Rigspula^ str. 49, but it is more likely to have been originally 
the name of the River Dnieper (mentioned by Jordanes, The 
Origins and Deeds of the Goths^ ch. 5, 52, as Danaper)^ which 
was within the territories of the Goths in the fourth century. 

XIII. Gizur. There appear to be reminiscences of this 
story in Saxo, Book V, e.g. in regard to the numbering of the 
Hunnish forces. Gizur seems to correspond to Eric in Saxo 
p. 190 f. It has been suggested that he is Othin in disguise. 

Hazle stakes. Cf. the Thdttr of Nornagest^ ch. 7 (note). 

XIV. They rode forthwith . . . against the Huns. It has been 
suggested by Heinzel that this battle between the Goths and 
the Huns was the great battle fought on the Catalaunian Plain 
in 451 A.D. ; but the passage in Widsift cited on p. 238 
points rather to Poland. 


Drew...lips^ lit. 'drew back his moustache.' 
Dunheith and the other place names are unknown. 

XV. The Goths were defending^ etc. Cf. Widsi^ 1. 121 ff. 

XVI. Ivor Vithfathmi. For Ivar Vithfathmi and his 
family, see Tnglingasaga, chs. 44, 45, and the first fragment of 
Skjb'ldunga Saga (printed in the Fornaldar Sogur^ i, p. 285 ff.), 
chs. 1-3. 

Harold Hilditonn. The fullest account of Harold Hilditonn 
is that given by Saxo Grammaticus, Dan. Hist.) p. 296 ff. 
See also the fragments of the Skjbldunga Saga^ ch. 4 ff. 

Gautland y i.e. the Land of the Geatas in Beowulf^ the 
modern Gotaland (whether Vestergotland or Ostergotland or 
both), comprising roughly speaking the southern portions of 
Sweden, exclusive of the Danish districts (Skaane etc). 

Harold of the Red Moustache. He was King of Agthir. 
A daughter of his, also called Asa, was married to Guthroth, 
King of Vestfold the Godefridus who fought against 
Charlemagne and died in 810. See Tnglingasaga^ ch. 53. 
Their son was Halfdan the Black, the father of Harold the 

Sigurth Hrlng. See the Thdttr ofNornagest^ ch. 7 and note. 

Battle of Bravo//. The chief accounts of this battle are to 
be found in the second fragment of the Skjb'ldunga Saga^ 
ch. 8 f. (see above); and in Saxo Grammaticus, Dan. Hist.) 
pp. 309 ff. 

The Sons of King Ragnar. For Ragnar Lothbrok and 
his sons, see the Thdttr of Nornagest^ ch. 9 and note. 

A sea-king. Cf. the Saga ofOlafthe Holy (Heimskringla], ch. 4. 

The Sons of Eric Bjb'rnson were Onund and Bjbrn. These 
are probably to be identified with the Swedish kings Bern 
and Anoundus mentioned in Rembertus' Life of St Ansgar^ 
chs. ii and 19, in connection with the saint's missionary visits 
to Sweden (c. 830). 

Bragi Skald was the great grandfather of Arinbjorn the 
friend of Egil Skallagrfmsson. In the Saga of Egil Skalla- 

16 2 

244 NOTES 

grimsson, ch. 59, he is said to have saved his life by composing 
in one night a poem in honour of King Bjorn. Some frag- 
ments of his poems have been preserved the earliest datable 
Norse poems which have come down to us. 

King Harold the Fairhaired. See the Thdttr of Nornagest, 
ch. 10, and note. 

Eric the Victorious. The battle won by Eric the Victorious 
over Styrbjorn at Fyrisvellir seems to have taken place 
between 980 and- 985. Several Runic inscriptions contain 
references to it. The statement that Harold the Fairhaired 
died in Eric's time can hardly be correct; for Harold is 
believed to have died in 933. 

Fyrisvellir^ on the banks of the Fyrisa, close to the site of 
the modern town of Upsala. 

Olaf the Swede. The traditional date of his conversion is 

Olaf the Sain^ ex-King of Norway, whence he had been 
expelled in 1028, was killed at the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030 
in an attempt to recover the throne. 

He tried to put an end to, etc. An interesting account of 
the heathen ceremonies of the Swedes, dating from shortly 
after the middle of the eleventh century, is given by Adam 
of Bremen in his History of the Church of Hamburg, Book iv., 
ch. 26 f. 

The sacred tree. The sacrificial tree in question is presum- 
ably that mentioned in schol. 134 to Adam of Bremen as 
standing beside the great temple of Upsala. 

Eymund, c. 1050-^. 1060. 
Steinkel, 1060-1066. 
Haakon the Red, 1066-1079? 

Ingi 7, d. c . in o. He, Hallstein and Blotsvein were all 
reigning in 1081. 
Philippus, d. 1 1 1 8. 
Ingi 77, d. 1125. 



I o. Gnoth-Asmund, etc. For notes on people mentioned in 
the Griplur, see notes to the Saga of Hromund Greipsson^ 
p. 231 ff. above. 

13. Draupnir 1 s beautiful blood^ a kenning for 'gold rings.' 
Draupnir was the name of Othin's ring which was made by 
the smith Eitri and sent to Othin by his brother Brokk. Its 
special value lay in the fact that every ninth night, eight gold 
rings dropped from it. Cf. Skdldskaparmdl, ch. 35. Cf. also 
Voluspd^ str. 15, where Draupnir is mentioned in the list of 


Refrain. According to Lyngbye the refrain should be: 

You dare not give counsel in trouble, etc. 
Others have it 

Let them have help in trouble. 
Schroter took down the first two verses as follows: 
A ballad there is of Nornagest, 

You dare not give counsel in trouble 
In manly virtues among the best. 

Let every lad do so! 

Twelve oxen were led to the Market Square, 
And onward thence to a castle fair. 
Grant bore gold from the heath. 

The King he thought to hew them to earth, 
You dare not give counsel in trouble 

With courage and joy does he sally forth, 
Let every lad do so! 

The King he struck such a mighty blow, 

That the blood from the wounds did swiftly flow. 
Grant bore gold from the heath. 

246 NOTES 

10. The mightiest champion, etc. In Lyngbye's version 10 
and 1 1 are transposed. Hammershaimb's is no doubt the 
correct order. 

15. Was Hogni, etc. Lyngbye here inserts a stanza: 

Hogni was a mighty man: 
Swarthy of hue was he as I ween. 

1 6. Rich) brave, etc. The Sudera version of the ballad 
here substitutes at the beginning of the line: "They were 
old and grey." 

31. The saddle-buckle, etc. In Lyngbye's version of the 
Ballad of Re gin the Smith, v. 131 (omitted by Hammers- 
haimb) the following stanza is found: 

[Grani] sprang across the pool 

And his saddle-buckle brake. 
And as I ween that saddle-buckle 

Nornagest did take. 

In the Ballad of Regin the Smith we are told that the 
accident to Grani occurred when Sigurth was on his way 
home from Gm'taheiS after slaying Fafnir. Grani was 
heavily laden with treasure and Sigurth also was mounted on 
him, so that the accident there appears perfectly natural. 

In days, etc. So Hammershaimb. Lyngbye has: 

In days gone by full far have I strayed 
In search of my candle and span of days. 

In the land. Here Lyngbye has: 

In the Land of the Franks is a lake broad and wide: 
O there does my span of life abide. 

O there does my span of life abide: 

And so for long I have wandered far and wide." 

But he adds a version corresponding to Hammershaimb's in 
a footnote and states that it is frequently sung so. 

42. The courteous man. According to Lyngbye, by a 
'courteous man,' the Faroese mean a Scotsman and says that 


the origin of the word (kurtis) is unknown. It is of course the 
same as the Icelandic kurtels which is a French loan-word. 

According to Lyngbye it was still part of popular Faroese 
legend in his day that Nornagest kept his candle in a little 
leaden casket which was sunk in a lake. Lyngbye says that 
Nornagest was regarded as the 'Nestor' of the Faroes, 
which is quite in accordance both with his "three hundred 
years" mentioned in the saga, and with the unusually long 
span of life often associated with the External Soul of folklore. 


1 . In a high oak-tree. In the version of this ballad obtained 
by Hammershaimb at Sumb0 the first line runs 'A man 
there lived on (lit. 'in') an island high,' v/hereas in the Ballad 
of ArngrinCs Sons, v. 3, we are told that Arngrim and his 
sons lived 'under* an oak. Possibly the first line of our text 
is a confusion of these two versions. The error is made more 
comprehensible by the fact that there are no trees on the 
Faroes, and so the phrase must have been a meaningless jingle 
of words to the singers. 

Arngrini s sons from Africa. The text has 'Arngrim's sons 
from Blaland,' by which the Faroese ballads and the Forn- 
aldar Sogur generally mean Africa. Here, however, we 
should more naturally have expected 'Norway,' and it is 
very probable that, as Hammershaimb suggests, we here have 
the refrain in a corrupt form as so often happens. Probably 
'from Blaland' (af Bldlandum) should be 'from Bolmland' 
(af Rolmlandi], i.e. from the Island of Bolm, but the Faroese 
may have substituted the more familiar name for that of the 
island with which they were unacquainted. 

2. The champions Hjalmar, etc. The Sumb0 version has: 

He has eleven sons so dear; 

The twelfth is the warrior Angantyr, 

248 NOTES 

and also inserts immediately following a verse giving reasons 
for the voyage : 

News then came to Angantyr 

That a man there was had a daughter fair. 

4. They hoisted their sail, etc. Cf. Sigmundar Kv&fti^ 
str. 13,28,48. 

5. Their anchor they cast, etc. Cf. Magna Dans (Icelandic 
Fornkv&fti) v. 3, with which this is practically identical. 

6. jfngantyr eagerly^ etc. The lit. transl. of the text is 'An- 
gantyr was the first to step,' etc.; but the following v. has 
'Hjalmar was the first to step!' The Sumb0 version, which 
is undoubtedly better here, has 

Angantyr loypur so tungliga a land 
Angantyr leapt so heavily to land, 
instead of 

Fyrstur steig Angantyr fotum d land 

Angantyr was the first to step with his feet to land. 

10. Here sittest M0#,etc. In the Sumb0 version, Hjalmar's 
request is not recorded. The repetition of Angantyr's request 
in our text, if it has any significance at all, implies that both 
Hjalmar and Angantyr made the proposal. 

1 8. O franklin, lend me^ etc. The Sumb0 version here 
inserts an additional verse. 

Angantyr is so vile a troll, 

So are his kinsfolk and followers all. 

19. Forth of the hall. In the Sumbo version the fight took 
place outside the hall, and only Angantyr is credited with the 
troll-like bellowing. Indeed one feels throughout the Sumbo 
version a more clearly defined hostility to Angantyr on the 
part of the balladist, whereas the Westmanhavn version is 
more detached in its attitude. 



i. Offue he dwelt in Uthiss-kier^ so MS. A. MS. B has 
"Alff....OMerskitr" MS. C. hasU//...O<tersMtr." MS. D 

has "Alff. ..Odderskitfr." Axel Olrik, however, in the version 
which he prints in Danske Folkeviser i Udvalg, p. 105 f. has 
" Alf...Odderskaer." He explains (Introduction, p. 78) Alf to 
be c a combination of Arngrim the father of the berserks and 
Hjalmar's foster-brother Orvarodd.' 

7. Gold shone on his hand. The phrase is not quite clear. It 
may possibly refer to some personal ornament, but in view 
of the following line, would seem more probably to indicate 
that Angelfyr offered money to the King of Upsala. 

1 1. He is half a troll, So A, which is in accordance with 
Angelfyr's ancestry as told in the Saga ofHervor andHeithrek^ 
ch. i. B and D, however, like the Faroese, have 'He is so 
vile a troll.' A gives little sense, considering the second half 
of the verse, and the whole becomes a meaningless formula in 
all the versions in which Angantyr and Hjalmar are described 
as brothers. 

1 8. Whom he himself will have. Possibly han, 'he,' is a 
misprint for hon y 'she,' which is what we should expect. 
Cf. the Saga of Hervor and Heithrek, ch. 3. One hardly 
expects a cynical touch like this in an authentic ballad. But 
the whole of the latter part of B may be a later version than 
the original. 


Refrain. I have adopted the refrain given in Hammers- 
haimb's version of the Ballad, taken down on Sand0 in 1848 
and published in the Antiq. Tidss., 1849-1851, rather than 
Svabo's version which he afterwards adopted, but which is 
very obscure and possibly corrupt. 

250 NOTES 

2. Bjarnaland, so sing the Faroese according to both Svabo 
and Hammershaimb. By Bjarnaland they mean Norway. 
Contrast, however, the Saga of Hervb'r and Heithrek, ch. 2, 
where we are distinctly told that Angantyr's mother was 
Eyfurawho had been carried off by Arngrim from Bjarmaland 
(i.e. the land of the Perms) where her father was king. See 
also the note on this passage. The Faroese have no doubt 
confused the unfamiliar name with one more familiar to 

3. Beneath oak trees live they a common ballad formula 
with no real significance. It is interesting, however, as a touch 
indicating the literary origin of this and other stories told in 
the Faroese ballads. As has been remarked (see p. 247 above) 
there are no trees on the Faroes. On the other hand farm 
houses in Scandinavian lands stand frequently beneath the 
shadow of a large oak. For a discussion of this subject, see 
Chadwick, Cult of Othin (Cambridge, 1899), p. 72 ff. 
Compare the Scottish Ballad of Rose the Red and White Lily, 
v. 38: 

Then out and spak' the King again, 

Says, "Bonny boy, tell to me 
Who lives into yon bigly bow'r, 

Stands by yon green oak-tree?" 

4. Arngrim and the Earl's lady, etc. So Svabo. InHammer- 
shaimb's version (Antiq. Tidss. 1 849-1 85 1 ) she is described as 
the daughter of Angantyr. 

7. Better than fighting, etc. The incident of a boy playing 
too roughly with his companions and being told by them to go 
and avenge his father instead of maltreating them is very 
widespread. Prof. Ker notes its occurrence (On the History 
of the Ballads 1100-1500, p. 194) in the Irish Romance of 
Maelduin, in four Norwegian, five Faroese, two or three 
Danish ballads, in a Literary History of the Arabs and in 
New Guinea. 

8. Water she cast, etc. The passage is obscure. It is not 
clear if Hervik had actually been fighting with the lads,' so 


that the cleansing of her armour was an actual necessity; or if 
she had only been playing rather roughly. Leika can mean 
both 'to play' and 'to fight'; and leikvbllr may mean both a 
'playground' and a 'battlefield.' If Hervik had only been 
playing, the throwing of the water on the armour was possibly 
a rite performed before undertaking vengeance. 

9. Die on straw. To 'die on straw ' is the regular idiom in 
Faroese and Icelandic for to 'die in one's bed,' of old age or 
sickness, as opposed to death by the sword. 

10. Isarfs Grove. Hammershaimb suggests that by Isarfs 
Land here and in vv. 20 and 21 below the Faroese mean 
Samstf. On the other hand there was a forest in Holstein in 
ancient times called Isarnho, and some such name may possibly 
be preserved here. There was a King Isung mentioned in the 
Danish Ballad De vare syv og syvsindstyve, as an opponent of 
King Didrik; but it is improbable that his land is here indicated. 

13. She drew a shirt from out the chest, etc. a common 
ballad motif. A verse almost identical with this is to be found 
in the KV&& of Re gin the Smith, v. 47. 

14. Up then rose Hervik, etc. vv. 14, 15, 16 and 20 are 
identical with vv. 12-16 (inclusive) of Olufu Kvtefti, the 
only change being that 'Hugin the King' takes the place of 
'Hervik the Earl's daughter.' They are practically identical 
too with the Kv&fti of the Jomsvtkingar, vv. 6-8 (inclusive). 
Cf. also SjurSar Kvte&i (in, Hb'gna Tdttur, vv. 46-49), and 
Ragnarlikkja, vv. 40-48. 

20. Striped gold on a scarlet ground. The text has Gullvift 
reyftan brand, which is probably a mishearing of the line 
Gull vift reyftan rand ('with a gold stripe on a red ground'). 
Verse 39 of Brusajokils Kvtefti (which is otherwise identical 
with the above) gives in the second line Gull vi& rdum brann 
('gold blazed on the yardarms '). In Hammershaimb's version 
of our ballad, vv. 10, 72, the line is Gulli vovin vi& rand 
('woven with gold in stripes'), as also in v. 22 of the Kveefti 
of Ormar Torohsson. The line also occurs in the form Gull 
vift vdgum rann ('the margin of the ship was gold down to 

252 NOTES 

where it touched the waves '). This is no doubt corrupt, but 
it is difficult to conjecture as to which of all the variants was 
the original form of the line. 

23. Cast she down her anchor, etc. vv. 23, 24 are the almost 
invariable formula for the landing in the Faroese ballads. 
They are practically identical with v. 46 of Olufu Kvtefti 
and vv. 24, 25 of the Kvtc&i of Ormar Toro/vsson. Cf. also 
Sigmundar KvaSi, v. 32; Brusajokils Kvaffi, v. 41 and the 
Kvteftt of Alvur Kongur, vv. 24-26 and Sjurftar Kva&i 
(Hogna Tdttur, vv. 71-73). 

25. Herd and fee. Either the word jeege or the word fee 
seems to have an unusual sense here. 

28. Though quake now fell and fold. The original (kyk gekk 
jor& a fold) is not clear. I have merely adopted Grundtvig's 
translation of Hammershaimb's early text in the Antiq. Tidss 
1849-1851. The 1855 ed. substitutes hon for j or ft which is 

35. All in the middle, etc. There is obviously a lacuna or 
transference of some kind here. For this and the following 
verses, cf. Olufu Kvafti, vv. 26, 27, which are identical except 
the names. Indeed it is a common formula in the Faroese and 
Danish Ballads, and occurs in the Kv<z& of Ormar Toro/vsson, 
v. 26; and the Kv<& of Alvur Kongur, v. 33. 

36. A hundred men and five a stock number in the Faroese 
ballads. Cf. the Kv&fti of Ormar Toro/vsson^ v. 27, where 
we are also told that the King sat at the board 'with a hundred 
men and five.' Cf. also Olufu Kvtz&iy v. 27. 

37. Mead or wine, etc. Cf. SjurtSar Kvts&t (in, Hogna 
Tdttur, v. 181). 

5 2. Perhaps we should here again assume a lacuna or trans- 

Uppland is the old name for the modern province of 
Upsala in Sweden. 

60. Her cheeks they are as red and white, etc. Cf. the Kvtsfti 
of Finnur hin Frifti, v. 1 8. Cf. also the old Celtic romance of 
the Fate of the Sons of Usna: "I should like," said Deirdre, 


"that he who is to be my husband should have these three 
colours: his hair as black as the raven: his cheeks red as the 
blood: his skin like the snow " (Joyce's translation). Cf. also 
Grimm's story of Little Snowdrop. 

68. Forth then when his frigate, etc. vv. 68-84 are found 
in almost identical form in Olufu Kv&fti, vv. 22-35. 

69. Angantyr was the first to light, etc. A common ballad 
formula, both Faroese and Danish. 

88. / would not that lady Ingibjb'rg hear, etc. Lit. u the lady 
Ingibjorg will learn that I fled." There is a suppressed con- 
dition. " If I let you fight, the lady Ingibjorg would learn, etc." 
Hammershaimb's text (Antiq, Tidss.) v. 37, has a negative and 
no condition: u The lady Ingibjorg shall not learn," etc. 

97. O Hj a/mar, give me now a drink. This incident appears 
to be taken from Gunnlaugs Saga, ch. 12. 


9. Thunder is the red drum. Probably reyfta ('red') is a 
printer's error for reifta ('angry'), though the same form 
occurs also in the version of the ballad published in the Anli- 
quarisk Tidsskrift. In v. 16, however, we find skarift whereas 
in v. 17 the word is written skar&ft, the form used in both 
verses in Antiq. Tidss., and the two words are obviously 
identical in both verses. Moreover in v. 21 einir ('own,' 
'single') which gives little sense, is surely an error for 
eingir ('no,' adj.) as in vv. n, 17, 19. The negative is also 
found in v. 21 in the version in the Antiq. Tidss., in the. form ei, 
'they have not fathers or mothers.' Indeed the entire ballad 
would seem to be somewhat carelessly printed in Faroiske 


5. St Magnus, Earl of Orkney, 1108 to 1116. A 
cathedral was built at Kirkwall in his honour by one of his 
successors, Earl Ronald. 



Fornaldar Sogur Norftrlanda, ed. by C. C. Rafn, published at Copen- 
hagen, 1829. 

Fornaldar Sogur Norftrlanda, ed. by Valdimar Asmundarson, pub- 
lished by Sigurtmr Kristjansson, Reykjavik, 1891-1911. 

Die Prosaische Edda im Auszuge nebst Volsungasaga und Nornagests- 
tbattr, ed. with introduction and glossary by Ernst Wilken, 
Paderborn, 1877. 2nd ed., 1912. 

Sagaen om Hervar ok Kong Heiftrek, ed. by N. N. Petersen and 
published (together with a Danish translation by G. Thoraren- 
sen), by the Norse Literature Society, Copenhagen, 1847. 


Feeroiske Kvce^er henhjrende til Hervarar Saga, published by 
V. U. Hammershaimb in the Antiquarisk Tidsskrift, 1849-1851, 
Copenhagen, 1852. 

Fceroiske Kvcsfter, published by V. U. Hammershaimb at Copen- 
hagen, Part I, 1851 ; Part II, 1855. 

Danmarks Gamle Folkeviser, Vol. I, collected and edited by Svend 
Grundtvig, 1853. 

Griplur, published in Rimnasafn, edited by Finnur J6nsson, Copen- 
hagen, 1905-1912, p. 351 ff. 



The following is a list of English translations of works 
referred to in the notes of the present volume. It is not in the 
nature of a bibliography; but for the convenience of English 
readers, reference has been given, whenever English transla- 
tions are accessible, to the translations in preference to the 
original work. 

Corpus Poeticum Boreale, ' The Poetry of the Old Northern Tongue 
from the earliest times to the Thirteenth Century,' 2 Vols., 
Vigfusson and Powell, Oxford, 1883. 

Five Pieces of Runic Poetry, including Hervor and Angantyr, trans- 
lated into prose by Bishop Percy, 1763. 

Hickes's Thesaurus, including Hervor and Angantyr, translated into 
prose, Oxford, 1705. 

The Elder or Poetic Edda, Part I, The Mythological Poems, translated 
and edited by Olive Bray; printed for the Viking Club, 1908. 

The Edda of Scsmund, translated by B. Thorpe, published by 
Triibner and Co., London, 1866. 

The Prose Edda, translated by A. G. Brodeur, New York, 1916. 

Saxo Grammaticus, Danish History, Books I-IX, translated from the 
Latin by Professor Elton; published by D. Nutt, 1894 (the 
numbers in the notes refer to the pages of the translation, and 
not to the original Latin). 

The Heimskringla, translated by W. Morris and E. Magnusson; 
published by B. Quaritch in The Saga Library, 1889. 

The Saga of King Olaf Tryggwason, translated by J. Sephton and 
published by D. Nutt in The Northern Library, London 1895 
(different from The Story of Olaf Tryggvison contained in the 

Islands Landndmabok 'The Book of the Settlement of Iceland,' 
translated by T. Ellwood and published at Kendal, 1898. 

The Story of Egill Skattagrimsson, translated by W. C. Green, 
published by Elliot Stock, 1893. 


Grettissaga The Story of Grettir the Strong, translated by E. Mag- 
nusson and W. Morris, published by Longmans, Green and Co. 
(new edition), 1900. Also translated by G. A. Hight in Dent's 
Everyman Series. 

Brennu Njdlssaga The Story of Burnt Njal, translated by G. W. 
Dasent; published by Edmonston and Douglas, Edinburgh, 
1861 ; repu Wished by Dent in the Everyman Series. 

Three Northern Love Stories and other tales, translated by E. Mag- 
nusson and W. Morris. 2nd ed. 1901. 

Volsunga Saga The Story of Sigurth the Folsung, translated by 
W. Morris and E. Magnusson; published by the 'Walter 
Scott' Publishing Co. Ltd., London and Felling-on-Tyne. 

The Nibelungenlied The Lay of the Nibelung Men, translated into 
verse by Arthur S. Way; published at the Cambridge University 
Press, 1911. Also The Lay of the Nibelungs, translated into 
prose by Alice Horton, and edited by Edward Bell; published 
by George Bell and Sons, London, 1898. Also The Fall of the 
Nibelungs, translated by M. Armour in Dent's Everyman 

A further list of English translations of sagas not referred to 
in this book will be found in Craigie's Icelandic Sagas, ch. vn, 
p. no. A list of foreign translations, especially translations into the 
various Teutonic languages, will be found in Islandica, issued by 
the Cornell University Library, Vol. v, compiled by Halldor 
Hermansson, 1912, pp. 3-7 (general) and passim. 




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